New Delhi | Jagran Business Desk: Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday presented Union Budget 2021 and launched the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Health Yojana, saying the central government will provide Rs 35,000 crore for COVID vaccines.

Announcing her third Union Budget, Sitharaman hiked the Health Budget by 137 per cent from last year and said that the total budget allocated for healthcare for financial year 2021-22 is 2.23 lakh crore.

Sitharaman, who is India's first full-time woman Finance Minister, said that Budget proposals for 2021-12 rest on six pillars -- "health and well-being, physical and financial capital and infrastructure, inclusive development for aspirational India, reinvigorating human capital, innovation and R&D, Minimum government and Maximum governance".

"Today India has two vaccines available and has begun safeguarding not only her own citizens against COVID-19 but also those of 100 or more countries. It has added comfort to know that 2 ore more vaccines are also expected soon," Sitharaman said, as reported by news agency ANI.

"India now has one of the lowest COVID-19 death rates of 112 per million population and one of the lowest active cases of about 130 per million. This has laid the foundation for the economic revival we see today," she added.

Welcoming the government's decision to increase Health Budget, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said that it shows India's commitment to build stronger health systems and lauded India for pro-actively handling coronavirus pandemic.

"It has not only done this for its own country but it has also gone out of its way to support other countries of the southeast Asian region with supplies and now vaccines so that those who are vulnerable, their needs are also addressed," said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia.

Experts had also predicted that the central government might hike the Health Budget for the financial year 2021-22 to provide relief to the countrymen amid coronavirus pandemic.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma