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Budget 2023: Pharma R&D, healthcare get their due attention

Budget 2023: Pharma R&D, healthcare get their due attention
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By Vanita Srivastava  Feb 1, 2023 8:34:03 PM IST (Updated)

The pandemic has underlined a strong need to develop a vibrant platform within the country for pharmaceuticals and medical devices.

Bolstering research in pharma and building a stronger healthcare workforce, which have become important in the aftermath of the pandemic, have been given their due in the Union Budget this year. 

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Besides creating 157 new nursing colleges, the budget has stressed on boosting pharma research, facilitating manufacture of medical equipment and developing a model to eliminate sickle cell anaemia. All these are expected to jointly play a role in building a more robust health ecosystem for the country.
New nursing colleges, pharma research 
Adding new nursing colleges in co-location with the existing 157 medical colleges established since 2014 will help increasing the strength of the trained health personnel and narrow the shortage of health workers. This is much needed to tackle any future pandemic like situations and medical emergencies.
The pandemic has underlined a strong need to develop a vibrant platform within the country for pharmaceuticals and medical devices. A new programme for research in pharmaceuticals will help in this direction. Collaborating with private players and industry partners will give the much needed fillip. The effort made by the government towards promoting research in the pharma sector can help India become a major global player in the field.
Facilities in the ICMR labs will be made available for both the public and private players for carrying out research in the pharma sector. This collaborative effort is likely to assist high end research and bolster the manufacture of medical equipment and devices. But it is also important that the funds allocated for the research should be used pragmatically and allocated strictly on the basis of merit.
Sickle Cell elimination
A Mission to eliminate Sickle-Cell Anaemia by 2047 will be established. There will be screening of 7 crore people in 0-40 years age group in affected tribal areas. The mission will include awareness creation and counselling though collaborative efforts of central ministries and state governments. It is a step in the right direction by the government as it will help in tackling  anaemia and other haematological disorders that are endemic in the tribal population of the country This can also accelerate the efforts being made by the country to eliminate other infectious diseases.
Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be set up to in top educational institutions and leading industry players will partner in conducting interdisciplinary research, develop cutting edge applications and scalable problem solutions in the areas of health, agriculture and sustainable system. This can in turn help in sprucing research and innovation in health. The importance given to AI will strengthen the health sector with accurate diagnosis, and also widen the scope of medical treatments. 
More needed
The country is recovering from the after effects of the pandemic and there is a need to invest on digital health platforms and develop an agile health infrastructure that caters to people at all level. For the people at the grassroot level and rural areas there is a need to build a stronger health infrastructure and medical facilities. The expenditure on health is still low and needs to be revamped to compete globally.
There is also a need to build more research centres that are designed for specific diseases. The pandemic has dwarfed the treatments for other diseases and there is therefore an urgent need to accelerate the programmes for the diseases that have been neglected. Besides, the government should make more efforts to train the health workers and make them adequately skilled. There should also be wider provisions for the poor and marginalised section for getting proper medical resources and treatment facilities.
The author, Dr Vanita Srivastava, is an independent science and health writer. The views expressed are personal.
Read her previous articles here  
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