Poor health­care and ail­ing In­dia

Ru­ral In­dia suf­fered, pub­lic health­care floun­dered

Hindustan Times (Patna) - - YEAR REVIEW 2012 - — San­chita Sharma

De­spite the best med­i­cal minds and hi-tech med­i­cal town­ships, In­dia’s pub­lic health­care de­liv­ery con­tin­ues to floun­der.

World Health Statis­tics data 2012 showed that 39 mil­lion peo­ple in In­dia are pushed into poverty each year and one of the rea­sons is ex­pen­sive health­care. Around 47% of all ru­ral hospi­tal ad­mis­sions and 31% of ad­mis­sions in ur­ban In­dia are fi­nanced by loans and sale of as­sets. Lit­tle won­der then that al­most one in three peo­ple in ru­ral In­dia did not seek treat­ment be­cause they couldn’t af­ford it.

And yet In­dia’s health­care spend­ing re­mains a shoe-string 4.2% of GDP, which means as many as 86.4% of med­i­cals bills are mostly out-of-pocket spend­ing or money peo­ple spend from their own sav­ings.

This makes In­dia’s pri­vate spend among the high­est in the world, com­par­ing poorly not only with devel­oped coun­tries (US 23.4% and France 33.1%), and de­vel­op­ing economies (Brazil 57.2% and Thai­land 59.6%), but also neigh­bours Nepal, Sri Lanka and Pak­istan (72.4%, 82.5% and 81.9%) re­spec­tively.

What can change all this is the Uni­ver­sal Health Cov­er­age (UHC), meant to of­fer free and cash­less treat­ment to ev­ery­one at all district hos­pi­tals and pri­mary health cen­tres and sub-cen­tres by 2017.

But as al­ways, im­ple­men­ta­tion is the key — for the UHC to work, pri­mary health cen­tres and sub-cen­tres need to be strength­ened, which, de­spite ef­forts, has not hap­pened over the years.

THINKSTOCK

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