New Delhi: Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare, Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Dr. Harsh Vardhan digitally attends the 73rd session of WHO South East Asia Region (SEARO) from Nirman Bhawan, in New Delhi on Sep 10, 2020. (Photo: IANS/. Image Source: IANS News

New Delhi, Sep 27 : Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Sunday reiterated the the Narendra Modi government's commitment to increase the expenditure on public health to 2.5 per cent of India's gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025.

"The Union Government is committed to increasing the public healthcare spending as a percentage of GDP from the existing 1.15 per cent to 2.5 per cent by 2025," he said in the third episode of 'Sunday Samvaad', a weekly interaction he has been holding with his social media followers every Sunday for the last three weeks.

Harsh Vardhan noted that the committed leap in the share means an actual rise of 345 per cent from the current expenditure.

He also added that the 15th Finance Commission's high-level group on health has concurred that healthcare spending must be raised substantially in the next five years in view of the present pandemic.

Similar commitments have been made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former Health Minister J.P. Nadda in recent years as well.

In 2017, Nadda, now the BJP President, had said that the Central government would increase the total health expenditure to 2.5 per cent of the GDP by 2025. Similarly, Modi, while addressing the Partners' Forum in 2018, had said that the government is set to increase its spending on public health to 2.5 per cent of the GDP.

However, the share of expenditure for public health has remained stagnant at 1.15 per cent of the GDP, despite the multiple assurances, and the Modi government has faced flak for reduced and consistently low spending on healthcare for years now.

Meanwhile, Harsh Vardhan also said that the Central government had added 29,185 MBBS seats in the last five years while answering a question on the disparity of setting up AIIMS in different regions while approving merely one for the entire northeast region.

He informed that the Centre would establish new medical colleges attached with existing district and referral hospitals in Dhubri, Nagaon, North Lakhimpur, Diphu, and Kokrajhar districts in Assam, Churachandrapur in Manipur, West Garo Hills district in Meghalaya, Falkawan district in Mizoram, and Kohima and Mon in Nagaland.

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