Govt announces Rs 50,000 cr loan guarantee scheme for health infra
Government on Monday announced a cover of Rs 50,000 crore for ramping up health infrastructure in tier-2 3 cities, Rs 23,220 crore additional allocation with primary focus on paediatric care.
The loan guarantee scheme would provide 75 per cent coverage for new projects 50 per cent for those in expansion mode. Maximum loan of up to Rs 100 crore would be given for up to three years at the interest rate capped at 7.95 per cent.
“Other than the eight metro cities, health infrastructure in all other areas will be focused. If the focus is on aspirational districts 65 per cent cover will be provided,” Sitharaman said.
Industry experts feel that the loan guarantee alone will not induce investments in non-metros. “If the government says that they will allocate their Ayushman Bharat patients in that district to this hospital, then it becomes viable…Otherwise, corporate hospitals will take huge risks; we will compete with government hospitals which offer free treatment,” said Alok Roy, chairman, Medica Hospitals.
While the smaller players are likely to draw benefit from the loan guarantee scheme, some in the medical industry also raised the issue that no private hospital is keen on Tier-2 3 cities as there is no availability of doctors. “Government has to think of ways to create a pool of qualified doctors. Unless there is availability of medical personnel, no hospital would work,” said Girdhar Gyani, director general, Association of Healthcare Providers.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sithraman said that the allocation of Rs 23,220 crore would also be used to increase human resource capabilities by funding the hiring of medical nursing students along with increasing the availability of ICU beds, oxygen supply at central, district subdistrict level.
The additional allocation would also finance equipment, medicines, access to teleconsultation, ambulance services. Besides child care, these funds would also be used for ramping up testing capacity supportive diagnostics to strengthen capacity for surveillance genome sequencing.
“This fund (Rs 23,200 crore) will be spent in this financial year itself. The primary focus is on children but others also will benefit from it,” Sitharaman said.
Experts also feel that a lot more needs to be done to make up for neglect of the healthcare sector over the past several decades. “There can be no better time than the present, to fulfill the long-pending demof the healthcare sector to be accorded infrastructure status, in both letter spirit, to enable the nation to frog leap to the next level of healthcare,” said Harsh Mahajan, President, NATHEALTH.
Last year, FM said that, Rs 15,000 crore Emergency Health Systems Project was brought in during 2020-21. She said through this fund there was a 25-fold increase in Covid dedicated hospitals, 7.5 times increase in oxygen supported beds, 42 fold increase in isolation beds, 45 fold increase in ICU beds. The allocation was used for setting up of 7,929 Covid health centres, 9,954 Covid care centres.