Uttarakhand spends the least on public health amongst the Himalayan States
State’s percent of total revenue expenditure, percent of GSDP and per capita expenditure on public health remains the lowest
In a recent release of two-part series of factsheets on public health expenditure in Uttarakhand, Dehradun based SDC Foundation has highlighted the poor performance of the state in terms of public health expenditure. Foundation took into account three vital parameters to review the performance of the state in terms of public health expenditure:
The Foundation further compared these three parameters with those of the other Himalayan states including J&K, Himachal Pradesh and Northeast (excluding Assam). Uttarakhand remains at the bottom of the expenditure tally in all the three parameters, meaning it spent the least amount of money on public health compared to J&K, neighboring Himachal Pradesh and Northeast. The data was collected from Reserve Bank of India’s Report on State of Finances 2019 and 2020.
Amongst the Himalayan states, Uttarakhand had the lowest percent of total revenue budget expenditure on public health at 6.8% compared to J&K (7.7%), Northeast (7.5%) and neighboring Himachal Pradesh (7.6%). Uttarakhand also spends the lowest percent of GSDP on public health i.e., 1.1% compared to J&K (2.9%), Himachal Pradesh (1.8%) and Northeast (2.9%).
Uttarakhand has made the least per capita public health expenditure amongst all the Himalayan states from 2017 to 2019. Arunachal Pradesh spends the most on public health (per capita wise). The state has spent Rs. 28417 in three years compared to Rs. 5887 by Uttarakhand. Moreover, in these three years (2017-19), even the neighboring Himachal Pradesh has spent double the amount of Uttarakhand.
“Data clearly shows that we are lagging behind. Public health has not been a key priority for the state. It is after the pandemic that discussions on public health became mainstreamed. Keeping in mind our tough conditions, it is imperative for state to invest and create robust public health system. Himachal is number one example for us. There is lot of work which needs to be done on the health front”, says Anoop Nautiyal, Founder, SDC Foundation.
The research by SDC Foundation has also revealed that Uttarakhand remains a poor performer in terms of utilization of National Health Mission funds, a key central policy to streamline the health-related works at the state level. As per the state’s draft health policy of 2020, from 2009 to 2016, Uttarakhand has struggled to utilize even 70% NHM funds. In 2013, we utilized only 48% funds. Though, in 2017 and 2018, state was able to utilize close to 90% funds. As per Union Health Ministry, performance of states like Uttarakhand and Bihar is worrying in terms of fund utilization.
“This is now a universal truth. States that invest more in public health will be able to ensure a safe and sustained growth. Unfortunately for Uttarakhand, scenario has been totally opposite. Our research shows that we are lagging behind on most of the key parameters of the public health expenditure. It is time for the government to look closely at these figures and engage with experts to improve its performance”, says Rishabh Shrivastava, Lead – Research and Communications, SDC Foundation.
The research was carried by Vidush Pandey and Rishabh Shrivastava of SDC Foundation. The Foundation has been publishing special factsheets on issues of climate change and public health affairs in Uttarakhand.