Finance Minister on Saturday allocated Rs 69,000 crore for the health sector and announced that expansion of government’s health insurance scheme, Ayushman Bharat scheme.

Under the Ayushman Bharat scheme, the number of hospitals in Tier II and III cities is expected to rise under the PPP model.

“Viability gap funding window to be set up to cover hospitals, with priority given to aspirational districts that don’t have hospitals empaneled under the Ayushman Bharat scheme,” the minister said.

The minister further said that the proceeds from tax on medical devices will be invested in government hospitals in tier II and III cities, while Rs 6,000 crore will be allocated for the Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana.

The Ayushman Bharat scheme was launched in 2018 and it provides a coverage of Rs 5 lakh per family annually.

During her speech, the minister stressed the shortage of medical professionals in the country. She said that government will address the issue by converting the existing district hospitals into medical colleges via PPP mode.

“There is a shortage of doctors in districts. The government proposes to attach a medical college with the district hospital in the PPP mode,” she said.

Sitharaman also said that a special bridge could help in filling the shortage of professionals including doctors, physicians and specialists.

“There exists a huge demand for teachers, nurses, paramedical staff abroad. I propose a special bridge course to be designed. Large hospitals will offer DNB/SNB courses to increase specialist doctors,” she said.

(With input from agencies)