The increase of the rates of excise duty of cigarettes and alcoholic products by 10 percent to discourage consumption, is among the core measures aimed at fostering a healthy population, as announced this evening by the Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, during his presentation of the Budget 2023-24.
The Minister highlighted that a budget of Rs 15.7 billion has been earmarked this year to further enhance the quality of health services we provide to our citizens.
The Minister emphasised that Digital technology has to become the catalyst in the delivery of health services, and that in line with this objective, the e-Health system will be implemented in hospital facilities as from July 2023 to enable the ‘One Patient – One Record’ for every Mauritian Citizen. An amount Rs 180 million is being provided for the implementation of the e-health project which will start at the Jawaharlall Nehru Hospital (JNH), he informed.
Furthermore, in order to significantly reduce the risk of heart disease especially amongst diabetic patients, senior citizens and immuno-depressed persons, the Artificial Intelligence-enhanced Electrocardiography test will be introduced in public hospitals, announced the Minister.
Modernisation of health infrastructure
As regards investing in the modernisation of health infrastructure around the island, the Budget caters for a total amount of Rs 2.2 billion for the implementation of the following projects:
• Rs 950 million for completion of the Flacq Teaching Hospital by February 2024;
• Rs 375 million for ongoing construction works for the New Eye Hospital and the New Renal Transplant Unit at the Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital;
• Rs 104 million for construction of Area Health Centres at Cap Malheureux, New Grove, Wooton, Curepipe and Bambous; and upgrading of Area Health Centres at Tamarin and Case Noyale;
• Rs 50 million for the construction of Community Health Centres including completion works at St Francois Xavier, Roche Bois, Trou d’Eau Douce and Camp de Masque;
• Rs 88 million for completion of Mediclinics at Stanley, Bel Air, Quartier Militaire, Grand Bois and construction of new Mediclinics at La Tour Koenig and Rivière du Rempart; and
• Rs 91 million for upgrading works at Dr. A. G Jeetoo Hospital, Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital, SSR National Hospital, Dr. Bruno Cheong Hospital, Victoria Hospital, Souillac Hospital, Mahebourg Hospital, Long Mountain Hospital, Brown Sequard Hospital and Subramania Bharati Eye Hospital.
Furthermore, the Budget caters for an amount of Rs 300 million for the acquisition of modern medical equipment for our hospitals.
The Finance Minister also dwelt on the resolve of the Government to continue to take decisive actions to enable early detection, prevention and cancer care to its population. To this end, he indicated that Rs 20 million is being provided for increased screening for cancer risks assessments and early detection; the vaccination of some 80,000 children aged 9 to 15 years against human papillomavirus (HPV); Rs 210 million is being earmarked for equipping the New Cancer Centre with high-tech equipment.
Facilitating the life of Diabetes patients
Pertaining to the Diabetes patients, the Budget seeks to provide some 1000 Type-1 diabetes patients with a continuous glucose monitor and amongst them, some 450 high risk diabetic patients will also be provided with an insulin pump.
Recruitment of staff
In addition, Dr Renganaden Padayachy underpinned the objective of the Government to strengthen the capacity of the public health sector, through the recruitment of an additional 1,400 staff this year.
Another announcement made by the Minister, consists of providing for referral of priority cases for eye surgeries to local private hospitals for treatment, in order to drastically reduce the waiting time.