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The Indian government published the union budget for this fiscal year. Since this was a pre-election budget, it is known as an interim budget or a vote on account. Still, the budget released some plans for the healthcare sector to bridge gaps and improve the infrastructure. While we await the comprehensive budget later this year, let's dive into three key takeaways for healthcare.

1. Investing in the future: new medical colleges

The budget proposes establishing new medical colleges across the country. It is a welcome step considering the current doctor-to-patient ratio imbalance. More doctors translate to improved accessibility, particularly in rural areas, and the potential for specialised care to reach a wider population. This investment in medical education can nurture future healthcare professionals, contributing to a stronger healthcare ecosystem in the long run.

2. Protecting young women: prioritising cervical cancer prevention

The government's commitment to providing the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to girls aged 9-14 through the public health system is a significant step towards cervical cancer prevention. This potentially life-saving vaccine targets the virus responsible for most cervical cancers, offering young women crucial protection. This initiative holds the potential to significantly reduce the future burden of cervical cancer in India.

3. Expanding coverage: empowering grassroots healthcare workers

The budget announced the extension of the Ayushman Bharat scheme to cover ASHA and Anganwadi workers. This move acknowledges their vital role in delivering healthcare services at the community level. Providing health insurance coverage to these workers not only ensures their well-being but also encourages them to continue their dedicated service, ultimately strengthening the reach and impact of healthcare programs in rural areas.

Looking ahead

While these initiatives are laudable, it's crucial to ensure their effective implementation and monitor their impact. Continued focus on strengthening infrastructure, addressing the shortage of healthcare professionals, and promoting preventive healthcare remains essential. We eagerly await the full budget later this year for a more comprehensive roadmap towards building a resilient and accessible healthcare system for all.

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