New Delhi, 01 February 2022: Technology has taken a centre-stage for the Health Sector in the General Budget presented in the Parliament by Smt Nirmala Sitharaman, Union Minister of Finance.  Two new digitally underpinned Schemes have been announced which indicate the key role that digital technology is playing in expanding the access of health and medical care across the country.

The imprint of the COVID-19 pandemic is reflected in the announcements make today.  The Union Finance Minister at the outset, expressed empathy for those who had to bear adverse health and economic effects of the pandemic.  She emphasized that the country is in a strong position to withstand challenges due to the accelerated improvement of health infrastructure in the past two years.   In her Budget speech, she acknowledged that the speed and coverage of our vaccination campaign has helped greatly to fight the pandemic.  “I am confident that with Sabka Prayas we will continue our journey of strong growth” the Finance Minister said.

Smt Nirmala Sitharaman highlighted that the initiatives of the last year’s Budget have seen significant progress and have been provided with adequate allocations in this Budget as well. The strengthening of health infrastructure, speedy implementation of the vaccination programme, and the nation-wide resilient response to the current wave of the pandemic, are evident for all, she noted.

Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission

A new open platform for the National Digital Health Ecosystem will be rolled out. It will comprehensively consist of digital registries of health providers and health facilities, unique health identity, consent framework, and shall provide universal access to health facilities.

National Tele Mental Health Programme

The Union Finance Minister acknowledged that the pandemic has accentuated mental health problems in people of all ages. In order to provide better access to quality mental health counselling and care services, a ‘National Tele Mental Health Programme’ has been announced today. This will include a network of 23 tele-mental health centres of excellence, with NIMHANS being the nodal centre. The International Institute of Information Technology-Bangalore (IIITB) will provide technology support.