Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday announced a number of sops to the healthcare sector while presenting the Union Budget 2018 on Thursday morning. Not just a thrust of crores of rupees was announced but a lot of new establishments and subsidies in medicines were also proposed in the new Union Budget. Launching a flagship National Health Protection Scheme, world’s largest government-funded health program, Jaitley said that it will cover about 60 crore people providing them Rs 5 lakh annually.

Under the Health Protection Scheme, 10 crore poor and vulnerable families with 50 crore beneficiaries will benefit up to Rs 5 lakh per family per year. Some 1.5 lakh Health and Wellness Centers will provide free essential drugs and diagnostics, and preventive health services and the Centre has allocated Rs 1200 crore for this. Also, Rs 600 crore will be provided for nutritional support to all tuberculosis (TB) patients at Rs 500 per month per patient during the period of treatment.

While announcing the sops, the Finance Minister gave a rosy picture of the healthcare sector of India and reiterated what Bharatiya Janta Party has done for it over the years. Arun Jaitley said that the government has provided affordable medicines through more than 3000 Jan Aushadhi centres, reduced prices of stents and provided free dialysis services for the poor.

The new Union Budget 2018 also proposed setting up of 24 new government medical colleges and hospitals by upgrading existing district hospitals. One government medical college will be ensured for every 3 parliamentary constituencies by upgrading 24 district-level medical colleges. A comprehensive healthcare scheme with maternal and child services, free essential drugs and diagnostics was also announced with an allocation of Rs 12 crore to this flagship programme.

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