Budget 2023 fails to address child neuro development programs, says health expert

Budget 2023 fails to address child neuro development programs, says health expert
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Union Budget 2023 on February 1, 2023, at 11 am. Just like the previous two years, Union Budget 2023-2024 was delivered in paperless form.

According to Dr Himani Narula, director & Co-founder of Continua Kids, “The new budget focuses on promoting research in the Pharma industry which can give a boost to the same. Where we are promoting research on the prevention of disease, emphasis on the prevention of disability is missed in the latest budget. Eklavya Model Residential Schools for tribal children is also a welcome initiative and will give a boost to better growth and developmental outcomes for children in those areas. However, the early child development programs still remain untouched,” she said.

Narula added that the Budget failed to address the emphasis on the execution of early child development programs. Research clearly states that approximately 45 per cent of under five children in our country are at risk of poor development. Return to investment in early child development as per published research is up to 7 to 10 percent.

“We lose 154 per cent of adult wages in children with some functional disability that could have been reduced by promoting early child development. Early identification and intervention can reduce the burden of disability and increase the percentage of functional adults. Developmental disorders like autism spectrum disabilities have a prevalence of 1 in 100 in the Indian subcontinent. The need to create separate policies towards structured support for the developmental needs of individuals with the disorder and modifying and updating the government insurance policies to reduce out-of-pocket health expenditure for the family are some of the areas untouched in the budget,” added Dr Narula.

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman allocated ₹ 89, 155 crore to the Ministry of Health in theUnion budget FY24. According to the MoneyControl report, the marking has risen to 12 per cent when compared to the revised budget estimated for FY 23.

“For the upcoming financial year, ₹ 86,175 crore has been allocated to the department of health and family welfare while ₹ 2,980 crore has been allocated to the department of health research,” the report stated. News9 had a talk with experts to know their view on this year’s budget.

Although the budget received some criticism for failing to address the growing neurodevelopmental difficulties among children and for failing to take any action in this area, some experts have welcomed the Budget 2023.