The scale of the extreme health emergency triggered by the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, which is currently taking a heavy toll on human lives in its second deadly period, has overturned the country’s fragile health system. No one can forget the horrific scenes in our hospitals, be it a government or a private hospital, where a huge number of Covid-infected patients and their caregivers faced a lack of proper medical care. The capacity of hospitals has been depleted due to lack of space, shortage of intensive care beds, shortage of oxygen, delays in testing, lack of healthcare professionals in all categories and lack of other infrastructural facilities to save human lives.
Take the case of the testing capacity of our hospitals and other private health care providers. Testing has been listed as one of the crucial tools in slowing the rate of virus spread. But the testing capacity of these institutions is under extreme stress. Even as diagnostic capacity was increased after the outbreak of the pandemic last year, the deadly second wave of the virus which wreaked havoc on human lives has made this surge meaningless and patently inadequate to cope. to growing demand. It is relevant to mention that the union’s Ministry of Health estimates the total number of laboratories available in India at 2,449, of which around half are run by private operators.
Here one thing must be clear. The lack of appropriate health infrastructure is not a Covid-induced story. The current situation is the result of decades of public health neglect in the country and our health system collapsed even when the pandemic was in its infancy. In fact, in the pre-Covid era, healthcare facilities were feeling the strain while handling a huge patient load. The Covid chaos has forced the authorities’ attention to address the infrastructural gaps existing in the health system, whether at the primary, secondary or tertiary level. It simultaneously required an almost equal focus on the three levels of primary, secondary and tertiary health care. Now it is imperative that the government seeks to improve primary health care as a public good.
One of the main reasons for the lack of scale-up of infrastructure in the health sector has been the lack of appropriate funding in the past. In particular, health experts had long warned against the consequences of underfunding health infrastructure. The Covid crisis has highlighted the fact that years of underfunding the health sector have left it gravely ill-prepared for a crisis of the magnitude of the Covid pandemic.
Meanwhile, it was a blow in the arm of efforts to increase health care infrastructure in the country, when Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Shaktikanta Das announced so proactive huge financial support to the tune of Rs 50,000 crore for “health care needs” in the Covid-19 Crisis. The program is, in effect, a comprehensive policy response by the RBI in tackling the second wave, alleviating any constraints on the funding side for all stakeholders – government, hospitals and clinics, pharmacies, vaccine / drug manufacturers / importers. , medical oxygen manufacturers / suppliers, private operators engaged in the critical healthcare supply chain and especially the common man who may be faced with a sudden increase in healthcare spending.
Remarkably, J&K Bank, the main banking player in the J&K and Ladakh regions, deployed the loan facility according to the parameters of the RBI. The Bank’s response by extending its financial support through its tailor-made loan program – JK Bank Health Plus plan – increasing health infrastructure in the J&K and Ladakh region would not only help strengthen health facilities, but would also be a great support for unemployed health professionals to establish their entities and earn a living.
What Are the Exact Parameters of the RBI Health Care Plan? Have J&K banks adopted the scheme?
As announced by the RBI, banks have been facilitated with funds to provide new loans to a wide range of entities, including vaccine manufacturers; importers / suppliers of priority vaccines and medical devices; hospitals / clinics; pathology laboratories; manufactures and suppliers of oxygen and ventilators; importers of COVID-related vaccines and drugs and logistics companies. Even patients can be funded as part of the treatment program.
Remarkably, J&K Bank has already announced an intensification of its lending efforts to entities and activities in line with the RBI health framework. A wide range of healthcare entities are eligible for a loan for the aforementioned activities under this program with all of the latest concessions announced by the RBI on May 5.
For example, funding under the RBI program for the creation of pathology laboratories and diagnostic centers will be made under the “JK Bank Health Plus” Scheme if the loan amount is between 100 lakes. Beyond this amount, it would be treated as project funding. Loans for the manufacture of vaccines, oxygen and ventilators; and the establishment of hospitals and dispensaries will be carried out under project financing (term loan and working capital).
Funding for importers / suppliers of priority vaccines and medical devices, suppliers of oxygen and ventilators and COVID-related drugs would be extended under the heading ‘Trade and services’ and these entities will benefit from CC / SOD facilities.
Loans to COVID related logistics companies can be extended for the purchase of specially designed ambulances / transport vehicles / staff buses. The cost of manufacturing / installing air conditioners / freezers / life support systems, etc. in these vehicles should be considered part of the cost of the project to obtain the maximum authorized bank financing.
COVID patients can also apply for financial assistance for treatment in terms of Covid-related equipment such as oxygen concentrators, oximeters, any other equipment falling under the Covid treatment protocol. The program will remain operational until 03.31.2022.
Besides financing the infrastructure related to Covid, what is the goal of the JK Bank Health Plus program?
The program is specially designed to fund qualified health professionals for the establishment / expansion / renovation / modernization of health centers / clinics / polyclinics.
Dental clinics, medical diagnostic centers such as pathology laboratories, ECG, X-rays, endoscopy, etc., physiotherapy and slimming centers, skin care and transplant centers of hair, dialysis centers, polyclinics, including dieticians, are covered by the program. An eligible entity can avail the loan facility of up to Rs. 100 lac against the mortgage of a property with a realizable value of at least 50% of the loan amount or by opting for CGTMSE cover ( guarantee commission payable by the borrower) and by submitting a personal guarantee from the promoters.
However, in the case of medical graduates or doctors with extensive experience / reputation, the loan facility may be extended against a third party guarantee from two or more people with strong financial means / net worth to bear the liability. acceptable to the Bank.
Term loans are repayable in 3 to 7 years (including the 6 month moratorium period).
Is there a loan system for cooperative societies for the creation of health infrastructure in rural areas?
Last year, in October, the government launched a new program, Ayushman Sahakar, under which the National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) granted term loans of Rs 10,000 crore to cooperatives for the creation of health infrastructure in rural India.
Data reveals that there are approximately 52 hospitals across the country run by cooperatives with a cumulative number of beds of more than 5,000 people. The NCDC fund is expected to boost the provision of health services by cooperatives.
Any cooperative society with appropriate provisions in its statutes to undertake health care related activities could access the NCDC fund. NCDC assistance will flow either through state governments or directly to eligible cooperatives. Grants / subsidies from other sources can be consistent.
Remarkably, the NCDC program aligns with the objective of the National Health Policy, 2017, covering health systems in all their dimensions – investments in health, organization of health services, access to technologies, care. affordable healthcare for farmers, among others.
It is relevant to mention that the Ayushman Sahakar specifically covers the establishment, modernization, expansion, repairs, renovation of hospitals and health and education infrastructure. It would also help cooperative hospitals to get medical and Ayush training.
The program also provides working capital and margin to meet operational needs. The program provides for a 1 percent interest subsidy to female-majority cooperatives.