March 01, 2007

Union Budget: Health outlay hiked by 21.9% to Rs.152.91 billion

The health sector in India is set to get a major boost in 2007-08 with the central budget Wednesday proposing a 21.9 percent increase in health expenditure outlay to Rs.152.91 billion.

In the second phase of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), the budget has sanctioned 173 ICDS projects, 107,274 anganwadi (mother and child) centres, and 25,961 mini-anganwadi centres, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram stated in parliament.

The budget has increased the outlay for ICDS from Rs.40.87 billion in 2006-07 to Rs.47.61 billion in 2007-08.

'Government is committed to expand the scheme in order to cover all habitations and settlements, during the Eleventh Plan and to reach out to pregnant women, lactating mothers and all children below the age of six,' he said.

Elaborating, he said 320,000 associated social health activists (ASHAs) have been recruited and 200,000 have received orientation training.

Besides, 90,000 link workers have been selected by the states. 'I am confident that there will be significant improvement in healthcare in rural areas,' the minister said, adding that allocation for the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) had gone up from Rs.82.07 billion in 2006-07 to Rs.99.47 billion in 2007-08.

Expressing concern over the surge of polio in 2006, the minister said there would be intensive coverage in 20 high-risk districts of Uttar Pradesh and 10 districts of Bihar.

'ASHA and Anganwadi workers will visit every single household and track every single child for the immunisation programme,' he said.

Chidambaram promised that his government would undertake determined efforts to achieve zero level of growth in HIV/AIDS. Under the renewed effort, the National AIDS Control Programme III (NACP-III) starting 2007-08 would target high-risk groups in all states.

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