Budget 2023 Health | Govt to take up fight against sickle cell anaemia

New nursing colleges, research and innovation among other focus areas in Budget health sector

Budget 2023-24 Sickle cell anaemia blood
The mission is to eliminate by 2047 sickle cell anaemia, a condition widespread among many tribal population groups in India | Representational image

One of the major announcements in Wednesday’s (February 1) Budget 2023-24 speech by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was the fight against sickle-cell anaemia.

The announcement was made under the first priority area — Inclusive Development — of the seven identified for the Budget this year. The other priorities are Reaching the Last Mile, Infrastructure and Investment, Unleashing the Potential, Green Growth, Youth Power, and Financial Sector.

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Sickle Cell Anaemia Elimination Mission


According to the Finance Minister’s speech, Inclusive Development covers farmers, women, youth, OBCs, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, divyangjan, and economically weaker sections. The Sickle Cell Anaemia Elimination Mission was announced under this section because the condition is widespread among many tribal population groups in India.

The mission is to eliminate sickle cell anaemia by 2047. It will involve raising awareness, universal screening of 7 crore people in the 0-40 age group in the affected tribal areas, and “counselling through collaborative efforts of central ministries and state governments.”

Sickle cell anaemia belongs to a group of inherited disorders known as sickle cell disease. Known to be widespread among people of the Deccan plateau, the disease affects the shape of red blood cells, which carry oxygen to all parts of the body. The only cure for sickle cell disease is a stem cell or bone marrow transplant.

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New Nursing Colleges 

Among the other announcements was the setting up of 157 new nursing colleges in co-location with the existing 157 medical colleges set up since 2014.

Research and Innovation

Also, the Finance Minister promised facilities in select Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) labs for research by public and private medical college faculty as well as private sector research and development teams. The idea is to encourage collaborative research and innovation.

In a similar vein, Sitharaman announced a new programme to promote research and innovation in pharmaceuticals through centres of excellence. “We shall also encourage industry to invest in research and development in specific priority areas,” she said in her Budget speech.

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Also, existing institutions will support dedicated multidisciplinary courses for medical devices. The target is to ensure the availability of skilled manpower for futuristic medical technologies, high-end manufacturing, and research.

Share in Budget

Overall, Union Budget 2023-24 has allocated Rs 89155 crore to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, a 3.4% rise over the Rs 86,201 crore allocated in 2022-23. This comes following a year that recorded a 16.5% increase over the previous year’s budget expenditure pushed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Department of Health and Family Welfare accounts for 96.6%, at Rs 86175 crore, while the Department of Health Research has been allocated Rs 2980 crore (3.4%). The share of the sector in the overall Budget was a meagre 1.98%.

The allocation for Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) has been increased to Rs 7200 crore, a 12% rise from the Rs 6,412 crore allotted in Budget 2022-23. Side by side, Rs 646 crore has been allocated for the Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission (PM-ABHIM).