The demand for healthcare services in India is expected to grow exponentially; however, the country’s public expenditure on health (by the Union and State governments combined) has remained at a low level of around 1 percent of GDP over the last two decades. The deficient level of public spending on health has resulted in poor infrastructure and inadequate human resources in this crucial sector. This has adversely affected both the coverage and quality of healthcare services available in the country, especially to the large proportion of economically weaker sections of the population. Nearly 70 percent of healthcare services in India are being provided by the private sector; this, along with lack of access to generic medicines, is believed to have increased the out of pocket expenditure by people on healthcare.

Given the widely acknowledged need for stepping up the country’s public expenditure on health, CBGA’s research pays special attention to the budgetary priorities for the sector both at the level of Union Government as also the States. There is a strong emphasis on generating evidence around three core issues in the health sector – the adequacy of overall public spending on the sector, access to free generic medicines in government healthcare facilities, and availability of human resources for public provisioning of healthcare. However, there is also a need for better utilisation of the available budgetary resources in the sector since poor financial management and a top-down approach in planning and implementation of programmes have posed major challenges. Accordingly, we also examine the patterns of fund utilisation in some of the important government programmes for health sector like, the National Health Mission.

Presently, CBGA is also collaborating with civil society budget groups and health rights groups across a number of States for analysing the policies, budgets and implementation challenges pertaining to health sector.

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