The Punjab government that promised eradication of drug menace to be on top of its agenda did not allocate any additional funds in its maiden budget worth Rs 1.18 lakh crore presented on Tuesday. Other than an amount of Rs 50 crore for establishment of primary rural rehabilitation and drug de-addiction centres in the state, the template of the budget set aside for health was nothing different than the one presented last year by the SAD-BJP government.
The government allocated Rs 1,358 crore for medical and public health in this fiscal year, which is 14.21 per cent higher than the allocations made the previous year. The allocation had nothing for fighting drugs.
Punjab’s Finance Minister Manpreet Badal, during his budget speech on Tuesday said “to restore the health of all the citizens of Punjab, while some new initiatives are being taken, some of the existing would be reinforced and remodelled to address the problem in a focused manner.”
The previous government, in the last budget, had allocated funds for the similar heads. Then, the government had allocated Rs 708 crore for providing affordable and accountable health care services to the community, Rs 36 crore for ambulance services, Rs 25 crore for treatment of cancer patients, Rs 100 crore for medical insurance for the poor people, and Rs 150 crore for creation of cancer and drug de-addiction treatment infrastructure.
And on Tuesday, when Manpreet Badal presented his budget, he had almost similar things in the health sector. Of the allocated Rs 1,358 crore, Rs 777 crore were allocated “for providing affordable and accountable health care services to the community under National Health Mission Programme, Rs 38 crore for providing emergency response services (108-Ambulance Services), medical helpline (104) in the State, Rs 30 crore for treatment of cancer patients under CM Cancer Relief Fund, Rs 100 crore for Universal Health Insurance’ for the under privileged people, Rs 50 crore for the creation of cancer and drug de-addiction treatment infrastructure, Rs 50 crore for the establishment of primary rural rehabilitation & drug de-addiction centres in the state and Rs 50 crore for tertiary care cancer centre.”
Badal said new tertiary-level infrastructure was being created in the field of cancer and drug de-addiction in the state medical colleges. For cancer patients, he said tertiary care centres were being set up at the cost of Rs 50 crore in Fazilka and Hoshiarpur districts.
Badal also said a new medical college would be set up at SAS Nagar (Mohali) with an additional outlay of Rs 10 crore in 2017-18. Rs 100 crore has been provided for upgradation of infrastructure in the Government Medical College and Hospital, Patiala.
The government has planned to transform approximately 3,000 centres in rural and urban areas as ‘Health & Wellness Clinics’ which will ensure preventive as well as limited curative services, he said.
Reacting to the budget, State’s Health Minister Brahm Mohindra told The Indian Express that “he will set the priority about funds usage in the health sector, as per the needs of the people of Punjab.”