India slashes health budget, already one of the world’s lowest

india2(Reuters) – The government has ordered a cut of nearly 20 percent in its 2014/15 healthcare budget due to fiscal strains, putting at risk key disease control initiatives in a country whose public spending on health is already among the lowest in the world.

More than 60 billion rupees, or $948 million, has been slashed from their budget allocation of around $5 billion for the financial year ending on March 31.

Despite rapid economic growth over the past two decades, successive governments have kept a tight rein on healthcare expenditure. India spends about 1 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on public health, compared to 3 percent in China and 8.3 percent in the United States.

The United Nations estimates about one third of the world’s 1.2 billion poorest people live in India.

Dominated by private players, India’s healthcare industry is growing at an annual clip of around 15 percent, but public spending has remained low and resulted in a dilapidated network of government hospitals and clinics, especially in rural areas. [Source]

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