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How much did India spend on health when the pandemic struck?

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The Covid-19 pandemic struck the world, including India, by surprise last year. The treatment protocol for the unknown disease was unknown. Most countries lacked masks, personal protective equipment (PPE) kits, and diagnostic kits, as well as hospital beds, oxygen units, and ventilators, which would serve as the first line of defence.

A year later, as India faced its second wave of infections, the world’s most serious in terms of daily cases to date, the supply shortages only grew worse. All appeared to be in short supply, from research kits to hospital beds, oxygen to ventilators, medications to ambulances.

Was India unprepared for the disaster? Examining government spending on health from 2019-20 to 2021-22 (for both the Union and the states) is a good way to address this issue.

The health-care spending of the Union government. 

Despite the fact that the fiscal year 2020-21 has come to a close, we still do not have the final figures on government spending. Provisional spending figures from the Controller General of Accounts (CGA), which is part of the Ministry of Finance, are what we have so far.

The headline figures are underwhelming. The ministry of health and family welfare invested 64257.8 crore in 2019-20. The 2020-21 budget projections (BE), which were introduced before the pandemic reached India, only increased this amount by 4.4 percent. According to the updated projections (RE) provided with the 2021-22 Budget, health expenditure in 2020-21 will be increased to 82,928.3 crore.

If the CGA figures are to be believed, 2,234.4 crore, or around 3% of the revised estimate, will go unused. The ministry of health’s overall allocation in 2021-22 (BE) is lower than in 2020-21 (RE).

Spending on health care by state governments

Health spending data for 24 states is available in the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) database from 2019-20 to 2021-22. Unlike the federal government, there is no equivalent of the CGA that keeps track of state government spending.

These states spent Rs.1.34 lakh crore on health in 2019-20. (medical and public health under social services). According to budget projections, this was projected to rise to 1.64 lakh crore in 2020-21. According to the updated estimates reported in 2021-22, this figure was revised to 1.69 lakh crore. In2021-22, these 24 states are projected to spend 1.9 lakh crore on health.

Only when the final figures are released in 2021-22 can we know how much money will be spent in 2020-21. When it comes to taxes and capital investment, states outspend the Union.

Health-related capital expenditures

The trend in the Union government’s capital spending on health, which will include the construction of new health facilities, is telling. In 2019-20, it was a pitiful 1666.9 lakh. It was reduced to 1065.7 crore in the 2020-21 BE numbers, but it was revised upwards to 4233.5 crore in the 2020-21 RE numbers. According to preliminary estimates from the CGA, only 3586.99 crore (or 85 percent of the RE) had been invested by March.

The 98 percent utilisation of tax spending, which accounted for 96 percent of the ministry’s total expenditure, drives 97 percent of the ministry’s total expenditure. Recurring costs, such as paying wages, are covered by revenue spending. The capital spending figure for 2021-22 BE is smaller than both the RE and preliminary projections for 2021.

The capital spending on health in the 24 states for which data is available is higher than the national average. In 2019-20, they invested Rs 12256.7 crore. The BE number for this head in 2020-21 was 20787.2 crore. However, in the 2020-21 RE figures, this was reduced to 20177.4 crore. Owing to the economic turmoil caused by the pandemic, many analysts believe that states have been forced to cut back on capital investment. These states’ capital expenditure health in 2021-22 is estimated to be 29872.7 crore.

The overall increase in capital expenditure on health after the pandemic hit India is abysmally poor when read with the shortfall of 600 in states’ capital spending as per 2020-21 BE and RE figures. It’s no surprise that India’s health system is on the verge of collapsing as the second wave sweeps the country.

Not everyone is to blame for the low health-care spending. In2021-22, some states spent a higher percentage of their budget on health than others. According to the RE estimates for2021-22, Delhi spent 12.4 percent of its budget on health, more than five percentage points higher than Assam, the next largest state that spent the most on health. The Union government, on the other hand, allocated 2.4 percent of its budget to the Ministry of Health.

Telangana is the only state among the 24 for which CMIE data is available that spent less than this amount, at 2.39 percent. Twelve states invested more than 5% of their spending on health. Another nine states spent between 4% and 5% of their budget on health.

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Health

H.R College students reach out to cancer patients, help them with medicinal, financial and emotional support

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22nd November 2022, Mumbai Uncensored:

The Student United Way chapter in HR College collaborated with V Care Foundation, an NGO with the objective to provide free medical, financial and emotional support to cancer warriors and their family members under the guidance of V Care Foundation’s professional patronage. The students got the opportunity to interact and assist the cancer patients in their fight against the disease. The financial help given to them was utilised to fund their daily medicinal and basic hygienic needs.

Student United Way of H.R. College (SUW) is a student body extension of United Way (Mumbai); an International NGO that focuses on social welfare, especially in the fields of education, health, and environment. Students from the college volunteer for the various events the NGO conducts around the city. SUW conducts several general body meetings throughout the year to prepare for the calendar of events and chalks out a concrete plan to implement the projects in the pipeline.

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Marburg Virus kills two people, the first cases confirmed in Ghana.

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Khushi Thapa, Mumbai Uncensored, 21st July 2022:

Ghana officially confirmed two cases of the Marburg virus, a highly contagious disease comparable to Ebola, on Sunday, after two patients who subsequently died tested positive for the virus earlier this month.

On July 10, tests carried out in Ghana revealed positive results; however, the World Health Organization stated that the cases had to be confirmed by a laboratory in Senegal.

Ghana Health Service (GHS) released a statement saying that additional testing at the Institute Pasteur in Dakar, Senegal, “has validated the results.”

Despite the fact that none of the contacts has yet shown any symptoms, GHS is taking steps to lessen the chance of the virus spreading, including isolating all of them.

The Marburg virus has just recently spread to West Africa twice. Guinea reported the region’s first incidence of the virus last year, but no other cases have been found.\

“(Ghanaian) health authorities have responded swiftly, getting a head start preparing for a possible outbreak. This is good because, without immediate and decisive action, Marburg can easily get out of hand,” said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

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Wimbledon 2022 Women Singles Final Highlights: Elena Rybakina defeats Ons Jabeur 3-6, 6-2, 6-2, clinches Maiden Wimbledon Title

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Shobit Chandola, Mumbai Uncensored, 16th July 202:

On 9th July, 2022 the Wimbledon got its winner in the Women’s Singles with none other than Russian born Kazak, Elena Rybakina who defeated the Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur with 3-6, 6-2, 6-2. Wimbledon this year, for the first time in a while, witnessed 2 finalists seeking their maiden title. What could be termed as unpredictability is that the fan’s favourite contenders were all eliminated before. While the Record 7 Wimbledon title winner Serena Williams was shocked by H. Tan in  the 1st Round, it was Paula Badosa underperforming in the Round of 16 and  the astonishing defeat of the Former Wimbledon Champion Simona Halep in the Semifinal.That too came from the end of Elena Rybakina who vanquished Simona in straight sets 6-3, 6-3.

As could be seen in the epic thriller, the first set was won by Ons Jabeur whose drop shots and forehand made Rybakina go for many unforced errors. But post conceding the 1st set, Rybakina changed the gear for all the trailing in 1st set and ensured enough aces and volley to make it 6-2 in the 2nd set for 1-1 tie. For the 3rd set, Elena led with 2-0 but got holded by Jabeur to make it 3-2 but outshined Jabeur with a 5-2, finally breaking the latter’s serve in the decider.

Not to forget the incredible journey of Ons Jabeur so far. It was the World No 2 Ons Jabeur who became the first Arab and african women to become the Wimbledon finalist but wasn’t at her best to defeat the 17th seed Elena Rybakina who switched her nationality to Kazakhstan in 2018 (owing to the lack of funding and infrastructure for her game) before representing Russia. Just like Elena who wrote the history as the first kazakh to be claimed as winner in the Wimbledon, it could have been the same to Ons too being the first Arab and African women.Though the losing cause made the Ons emotional, it was her grit, determination and the post match interview which reflected her strong character.

In the Post Match Interview, the Introvert Champion Elena had her say on the Wimbledon title. She stated “I was super nervous before the match, during the match and I’m happy it’s finished, to be honest. Really I have never felt something like this. I want to thank the crowd for the support, it was unbelievable these two weeks,” the 23-year-old said. But also I want to congratulate Ons for a great match and everything you have achieved. I think you are an inspiration for everybody. You have an amazing game. We don’t have someone like this on tour and it is a joy to play against you. I ran so much, I don’t think I need to do fitness anymore”. With this title, Elena became the youngest player to lift the Venus Rosewater Dish since 2011.

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