Impetus to healthcare sector missing in Budget

News Network
February 1, 2022

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Fresh impetus to the healthcare sector was missing in the Union Budget 2022-23 presented in the Parliament on Tuesday, healthcare sector players and experts said.

D.V.S. Soma Raju, Executive Director, SLG Hospital, feels that while the existing healthcare machinery in India stood up to the challenge posed by Covid-19 pandemic and did its best to keep a possible disaster under check, this sector needed a fresh impetus to enhance and strengthen the healthcare net across the country.

"The Finance Minister, in her Union Budget speech, announced levy of 'Health & Education cess' for the year 2022-23 but did not specify where this additional money would be utilised. I strongly feel the government must directly invest or encourage more private investments in the healthcare sector to ensure semi-urban and rural locations receive quality healthcare facilities," he said.

He was also of the view that the government must encourage digital health avenues to spread operations across the length and breadth of the country.

Dr Krishna Reddy Nallamalla President, InOrder and South Asia Regional Director, ACCESS Health International, said: "A 10 per cent increase in allocation to health is not in line with the health policy aspiration of public spending of 2.5 per cent of GDP. Increased allocation to other social sectors that have a bearing on health status of people is a saving grace."

Dr Gayatri Kamineni, COO, Kamineni Hospitals, is of the view that the Union Budget is a progressive one that holds the potential to tackle the economic challenges faced by the country in the post-Covid period.

"It is heartening to see Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's focus on sectors like health, including digital health ecosystem and mental health and wellbeing," she said.

She hailed the announcement of the National Digital Health Ecosystem. "The open platform that will consist of digital registries of health providers, health facilities, unique health identity and universal access to health facilities, will go a long way in providing quality and on-demand healthcare to the country's people."

"Realising the tremendous pressure piled on the minds of the people of India due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the FM's announcement of the National Tele Mental Health programme couldn't have come at a more opportune time," Kamineni added.

Vishal Bali, Executive Chairman, Asia Healthcare Holdings, pointed out that the Budget is silent on the increase in public expenditure on healthcare and the path to 2.5 per cent of GDP spent on healthcare which is the much-needed reform path for this sector and enablement of healthcare access to India.

"However, the focus on digital healthcare with the National Digital Health Ecosystem is a welcome move that will include digital registries of health professionals and facilities, a unique health identity, and help strengthen the foundation of universal access to health care facilities. The announcement of a national telemedicine-led mental health program with a network of 23 telemental health centers, with Nimhans serving as the nodal centres is also a step in the right direction," he said.

"However, reform in paramedical education for faster enablement of clinical/paraclinical talent is still not addressed. While the FM led Budget 21 made healthcare a central subject, Budget 22 does lack continuity of that vision," he added. 

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News Network
February 11,2024

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Islamabad, Feb 10: Pakistan's national election vote count concluded on Sunday with independents, mostly backed by jailed former Prime Minister Imran Khan, winning 101 of the 264 seats, the election commission's website showed.

The independents were followed by the party of another former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, which won 75 seats - becoming the largest single party in parliament as Khan's independents ran as individuals.

The final tally was released over 60 hours after voting concluded in Thursday's national elections, a delay that has raised questions about the process.

Another blow 

Pakistan, which is struggling to recover from an economic crisis, was dealt another blow when the elections threw up a hung verdict. The country now faces days of political horse-trading as parties try to cobble together leaders to prove majority.

Key points

1.    Imran Khan, who is in jail and barred from contesting elections, managed to grab the headlines as independent candidates who support his party Pakistan Tehreek-Insaf (PTI) won 101 seats in the Pakistan general polls.

2.    But the party still fell 32 seats short of the majority mark needed to form the government.

3.    Pakistan election commission has attributed the delay to internet issues, due to which polling stations are facing difficulties transmitting the results.

4.    Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League (N), which was backed by the Army and the favourite to win the polls, could manage just 73 seats in the 266-seat assembly. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari's Pakistan People's Party (PPP) won 54.

5.    Both Khan and three-time former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, declared victory yesterday increasing uncertainty over who will form the next government at a time when swift policy action is needed to address multiple challenges.

6.    The independents' strong performance points to former prime minister Imran Khan's enduring popularity among the nation's 241 million people, many of whom are struggling to make ends meet amid the fastest inflation in Asia.

7.    Several independents, backed by PTI, have alleged fraud in the election results and moved the high court. According to local media reports, several more candidates could approach the court over the next few days alleging that the votes were rigged.

8.    PTI is also expected to launch nationwide protests today as the final results of the elections have still not been released.  

9.    Gohar Khan, PTI chairman, called on "all institutions" in Pakistan to respect his party's mandate. At a press conference, he said if complete results of the polls were not released by Saturday night, the party would hold peaceful protests today outside government offices returning election results around the country.

10.    In a bid to keep Imran Khan's party away from the country's top office, Nawaz Sharif and Bilawal Bhutto are holding talks to join hands. But even with the combined strength, they will fall short of the majority by 6 seats.

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News Network
February 18,2024

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Kamal Nath, former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister and Congress strongman, is mulling a switch to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after the party's leadership denied him a Rajya Sabha ticket, India Today TV reported citing sources aware of the matter. 

"Kamal Nath is likely to switch to the BJP and the Congress leadership has made no attempts to reach out to him. Things have come to a knot with Kamal Nath actively lobbying for a Rajya Sabha ticket," sources aware of the matter said.

They claimed that Kamal Nath even met Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge for a Rajya Sabha nomination. "The former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister even hosted MLAs to endorse his nomination, but the leadership refused to blink," they added. 

Congress blames Kamal Nath for fall of MP govt

The sources, however, added that the party "bent backwards to please" Nath. They also blamed Kamal Nath and his "adamance" for the fall of the Madhya Pradesh government. These sources added Nath refused to cooperate with anyone sent from Delhi. 

"Senior leader JP Agarwal was shunted out because he (Kamal Nath) didn't want him as the in-charge and refused to corporate with him. Randeep Surjewala was given the assignment later, but Kamal Nath continued to have a one-way traffic as far as ticket distribution and campaigning in Assembly elections were concerned," the sources said. 

There were reports suggesting that Kamal Nath, along with his son Nakul Nath and other MPs may switch over to the BJP.

Kamal Nath on joining BJP

The speculations peaked when the former Madhya Pradesh CM arrived in Delhi on Saturday. While speaking to reporters, Nath said if there was any such thing, he would inform the media first.

"It is not about denying, you are saying this, you people are getting excited. I am not getting excited, this side or that side, but if there would be any such thing, I would inform you first," Nath said. 

Kamal Nath's close aide spills the beans

Kamala Nath's close aide Sajjan Singh Verma said: "Three things work in politics- respect, insult and self-respect, when these are hurt a person changes his decisions... When such a top politician who has done a lot for Congress and the nation in the last 45 years, thinks of moving away from the party, then all three factors work behind it. No decision has been taken that Kamal Nath ji is going, right there is just speculation..."

MP Congress on Kamal Nath-BJP reports

The Madhya Pradesh Congress on Saturday refuted rumors of party veteran Kamal Nath and his son, MP Nakul Nath, defecting to BJP. PCC president Jitu Patwari, during a press conference, dismissed the news about former CM Kamal Nath as baseless.

He emphasized the long-standing relationship between the Nath family and the Nehru-Gandhi family, dating back to the 1970s. Patwari recounted Nath's 45-year political journey, highlighting his seven-year tenure as Congress president in Madhya Pradesh and his steadfast support for the party.  

"In his political career of 45 years, he spent the last seven years as president of the Congress in Madhya Pradesh," Patwari said. "He stood shoulder to shoulder with all of us Congress workers and stood firmly for the party in every situation.  By imbibing the ideas of the people, he led us to perform our duties fearlessly while playing the role of the opposition," he said.

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News Network
February 17,2024

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Kasaragod: In a suspected case of murder-suicide, three persons of a family were found dead in their rented house behind Kanhangad Railway Station on Saturday, February 17.

Hosdurg police identified the deceased as Suryaprakash (55), his wife Geetha (48), and his mother Leela (90).The women were found dead in the bedroom and Suryaprakash in the kitchen. 

Police found in the house a suicide note, purportedly written by Suryaprakash, a watchmaker who was running 'Scientific Watch Works' at the old bus stand in Kanhangad town. The suicide note mentions financial liabilities on the family.

The details have to be investigated, said an officer at Hosdurg Station. Suryaprakash allegedly gave poison to his mother and wife before he hanged himself.

Suryaprakash and Geetha are survived by three children, Aishwarya, Arya, and Ajay. "The daughters are married and Ajay is working in a private company in Ernakulam," said Kanhangad councillor from Avikkara A V Lakshmi, who had known the family for decades. 

The wife's house is in Avikkara and Suryaprakash was from the South, she said. "They have been living in Avikkara for at least 30 years," said Lakshmi.

According to police, Suryaprakash phoned his son Ajay Saturday morning and reportedly told him "Mother and grandmother have gone. I am also going".

Ajay immediately called a friend and asked him to rush to his house. By the time he reached the house, all three were gone. 

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