Amid the growing need to bring remote areas under the ambit of healthcare services, the government may announce major initiatives towards digital health infrastructure in the upcoming budget.

According to a source close to the development, based on the feedback from the health ministry, the union finance ministry is said to be working towards a policy for setting up of a digital health infrastructure. It will focus on web consultation or tele-medicine to ensure healthcare service delivery to the hinterland. An announcement is likely to be made in the upcoming Budget, according to the source.

According to the source, the union health ministry has made a strong pitch for the need to cater to the needy in the rural and remote communities given the steep shortage of medical infra and staff in the hinterland.

The health ministry has suggested that the Gram Panchayats can be used to set up the necessary equipment for the same and local youth can be trained to connect the persons needing medical attention with doctors in the district or big cities.

It is also expected that the Centre may hike the allocations towards health on a scale similar to last year. In the last year's budget, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman allocated ₹2,34,846 to the health care sector. The allocation was more than double compared to the allocations made in the year preceding that. For the upcoming budget too, health is expected to be one of the major areas.

Focus on healthcare is also one of the top demand of the industry ahead of the budget. CII has suggested that public investment on health should be increased to at least 2.5-3% of the Cross Domestic Product by 2025, from the current 1.29%. The industry body has also demanded investment trusts for health care and innovation fund to promote digital health infrastructure.

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