Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman's Union Budget 2022-23 focuses on building up healthcare infrastructure and creating a National Digital Health Ecosystem to help India come out of the health and economic issues related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sitharaman, who started her Budget speech by expressing her empathy for those who had to bear adverse health and economic effects of the pandemic, said we are in the midst of an Omicron wave with high incidence but milder symptoms. Further, the speed and coverage of our vaccination campaign has helped greatly. With the accelerated improvement of health infrastructure in the past two years, we are in a strong position to withstand challenges.

The FM proposed rolling out an 'Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission', an open platform for the National Digital Health Ecosystem. It will consist of digital registries of healthcare providers and health facilities, unique health identity, consent framework, and universal access to health facilities. Further, she proposed a National Tele Mental Health Programme as the pandemic has accentuated mental health problems in people of all ages.

"To improve access to quality mental health counselling and care services, a ‘National Tele Mental Health Programme’ will be launched. This will include a network of 23 tele-mental health centres of excellence, with NIMHANS being the nodal centre and International Institute of Information Technology-Bangalore (IIITB) providing technology support," she said.

The Budget has allocated ₹37,800 for the National Health Mission, an increased outlay of over ₹2,800 crore compared to ₹34,947 crore allotted last year. The FM said key health, women and child welfare initiatives will be integrated for better results.

Mission Shakti, Mission Vatsalya, Saksham Anganwadi and Poshan 2.0 were launched recently to provide integrated benefits to women and children. Saksham Anganwadis are new generation anganwadis that have better infrastructure and audio-visual aids, powered by clean energy and providing improved environment for early child development. Two lakh anganwadis will be upgraded under the scheme and the government has allocated ₹20,263 crore for Saksham Anganwadi and POSHAN 2.0. While ₹10,234 crore has been earmarked for the PM Poshan programme, Mission Vatsalya has a budgetary support of ₹1,472 crore and Mission Shakti has a budgetary provision of ₹3,184 crore.

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