Budget 2023-24: Bridging Gaps In Healthcare And Nutrition

By Shailaja Tripathi February 03, 2023

This year’s budget gives a fillip to healthcare and promotes millets

Budget 2023-24: Bridging Gaps In Healthcare And Nutrition
India aims to become a millet centre for the entire world. DepositPhotos

Millets have been accorded a prominent position in this year's budget.

The government's dedication to spreading the use of millets was made clear in the Union Budget 2023 when Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman declared funding for turning the millet institution in Hyderabad into a centre of excellence.

She said that the institute would receive assistance in doing best practises and millets-related research. The minister referred to millets as "Shri Anna" and stated that the nation, which is already the second-largest producer of Shri Anna in the world, also aims to become a millet centre for the entire world.

The government's approach, according to her, will increase the country's food security and safeguard the welfare of farmers. Millets are regarded as being incredibly healthy because they are rich in protein, fibre, minerals, and antioxidants.

At the behest of the Indian government, the United Nations declared 2023 the International Year of Millets.

Prabhakar Rao, a seed keeper and an expert in organic farming has been propagating the cultivation of local and seasonal crops for decades. Seeing the government’s support to boost millet production makes him hopeful. “One of the things they have overlooked in the green revolution is nutritional security. Today India for example has vast reserves of wheat and rice. It is food security where we have maximised the yield per acre but nutritionally but are people in India getting adequate nutrition?” 

The founder of Hariyalee seeds, a family-run farm, which curates species of endangered seeds from all over the world, feels that when it comes to nutritional security, nine varieties of millets offer nutritional security which is sustainable and scalable. “Millets are hardy crops. They don't require large amount of water, they are resistant to indigenous pests and diseases. They are very well suited for chemical free farming therefore widespread cultivation of millets in the traditional manner rather than monocropping will help nutritional security to the nation. When we take nine millets in various combinations, Sri navane as it is called, will address almost all the nutritional requirements of a human being. Therefore encouraging millet cultivation through the International Year of Millets and budget is a step in the right direction,” he adds. 

The FM also informed that the central government has also begun implementing a scheme from January 1 onwards this year, under which free food grains will be provided to all antyodaya and priority households for a whole year as part of its continued efforts to ensure food and nutrition security. Out of all BPL (Below Poverty Line) families, Antyodaya households are made up of the poorest families.

Sitharaman also stated that she wanted to put an end to sickle cell illness by the year 2047. It will entail educating the public, screening all seven crore affected tribal residents between the ages of 0 and 40, and offering counselling through concerted efforts.

In response to the epidemic and the requirement for a collaborative public health management, the government is also taking into consideration R&D at healthcare by developing facilities in a few ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) labs.

Additionally, the government will create a brand-new programme to aid centres of excellence for pharmaceutical innovation and research.

According to the finance minister, 157 medical colleges have opened since 2014. She revealed that 157 new nursing colleges will be established in key areas of the nation. It will fill the nursing care gap.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare's budget for this year increased by 4% from its FY23 allocation of Rs 86,200.65 crores to Rs 89,155 crores.

Commenting on the budget, Dr. Naoya Matsumi, Deputy Managing Director, Sakra World Hospital Bengaluru, says, “The “Amrit Kaal” Union Budget 2023 has significantly prioritized on improving the infrastructure of healthcare sector in our country. However, the government should have also focused on substantial budgetary allocation for preventive and mental health, and metabolic diseases that continues to grapple the younger population, making quality healthcare further accessible in the rural areas to bring down the modern-day healthcare risk factors."