State needs to invest more in healthcare: expert

The budget allocation for healthcare in the State should be enhanced substantially in the light of spreading of communicable diseases, Dr. V. Ramankutty, Emeritus Professor, Achutha Menon Centre for Health Science Studies, has said.

Speaking on the Kerala health sector as part of a public lecture series on ‘Kerala Economy in Transition’ jointly organised by the Gulati Institute of Finance and Taxation (GIFT) and Kerala Economic Association (KEA) here on Friday, he said inadequate funding had been the major hurdle for the development of public healthcare system in the State, especially after 2000.

The State should take steps to discourage unhealthy eating habits. Sin tax could be imposed to control such unhealthy practices, Dr. Ramankutty said . While the State was doing well when it came to major health parameters, it still needed more investment in its public healthcare system.

The per capita health expenditure stands at ₹7,636 in Kerala, one of the highest in India. As much as 6.5% of Kerala’s GDP is spent on healthcare. Yet, we were far behind compared to our growing needs, he said. Sixty-six per cent of treatment in the State was carried out in the private sector. A health cess could be introduced on the lines of the road cess for funding development of public healthcare in the State, he said.

Former Planning Board member B. Ekbal presided over the webinar. M. Kabeer, former head of the Department of Economics, Government College For Women, and GIFT director Dr. K.J. Joseph, also spoke.

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