India has slashed its healthcare budget by 20 percent due to fiscal strains, putting at risk key disease control initiatives in a country where public spending on health is already among the lowest in the world.
More than 60 billion rupees (US$948 million) has been cut from the health ministry’s budget allocation of around US$5 billion for the financial year ending on March 31, Reuters reported, citing two ministry officials.
Despite rapid economic growth over the past two decades, India spends only about 1 percent of its gross domestic product on public health, compared with 3 percent in China and 8.3 percent in the United States.
Hopes were high that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was elected in May, would upgrade the country’s basic health infrastructure and make medical services more affordable for the poor.
The United Nations estimates about a third of the world’s 1.2 billion poorest people live in India.
The budget cut reflects the government’s struggle to achieve its 2014/15 fiscal deficit target of 4.1 percent of GDP, the report said.
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