Kerala Budget: Rs 2,629.33 crore set aside to see state in pink of health

Despite fund constraints, Finance Minister K N Balagopal has increased the allocation to the medical and public health sector by Rs 288 crore to Rs 2,629.33 crore. 

Published: 12th March 2022 06:22 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th March 2022 06:22 AM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

KOCHI: Despite fund constraints, Finance Minister KN Balagopal has increased the allocation to the medical and public health sector by Rs 288 crore to Rs 2,629.33 crore.

Among the various schemes announced, allocation of funds for the Institute of Advanced Virology, introduction of the state cancer control strategy, and care for palliative and geriatric patients are eye-catchers. Funds have also been earmarked for cancer prevention and cancer centres, including the Thiruvananthapuram RCC and Cochin Cancer Research Centre (CCRC).

The hike in allocation for health sector has invited mixed responses from experts, though the budget is being viewed largely in a positive light compared to last year’s. Funds have been allocated for futuristic projects, including the Kerala Genomics Data Centre (Rs 50 crore) and setting up of a Centre of Excellence in Neutraceuticals (Rs 25 lakh) for research in ways to prevent and treat ailments through substances in food. However, some experts view these projects sceptically.

“The stress on public health is a good move. The focus on healthcare sector and its development is welcome, but when the government announces such projects with fanfare, it should also be able to make sure that they are being completed as well. With the emergence of new viruses, there is a need for genome sequencing facilities and focus on research in this field,” said public health expert Dr Mathew George. 

Balagopal has said about 70,000 people are newly diagnosed with cancer in Kerala every year. The data analysed from the 2012-2019 period saw the incidence of breast cancer increasing by 42% and thyroid cancer by 22%. Various schemes including a community-level cancer control strategy, a Cancer Care Suite — software that would include information on cancer patients — and allocation of funds for cancer research centres in the state were announced. 

“As far as cancer care in the state is concerned, the government has come up with various schemes that are a step in the right direction. Developing CCRC as the apex cancer centre in central Kerala and the announcement of completing the first phase of CCRC with 360-bed strength are laudable. Also, work at the CCRC is going on in full swing. Around 300 labourers, on average, are engaged there on a daily basis,” said Dr Sanil Kumar of Justice V R Krishna Iyer Movement, which has been at the forefront of setting up the centre. 

“When the state is being weighed down by cancer, setting up a database collecting the information of patients and bone marrow donors is a right step. Since we do not have a cancer registry, let us hope that this is a good start,” said Dr P Balagopal, an oncologist based in Kochi. Welfare schemes for palliative and senior citizens are also viewed positively by patients as well as doctors.

Key allocations

Kerala Genomics Data Centre: Rs 50 crore for first phase
Centre Excellence of Microbiomes: Rs 5 crore for initial expenses

Centre for Excellence in Neutraceuticals: Rs 25 lakh for preparing DPR

Institute of Advanced Virology: Rs 50 crore for various purposes including arranging modern lab facilities

Regional Cancer Centre, T’Puram: Rs 81 crore

Cochin Cancer Research Centre: Rs 14.5 crore

Malabar Cancer Centre: 28 cr

Palliative care: 5 crore for various schemes

Rs 500cr as state share for PM-JAY Scheme

Rs 250.70 cr for development of medical colleges in the state and Regional Institute of Ophthalmology in Thiruvananthapuram

India Matters


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