India | Healthcare | 2nd December 2021 | Virtual Wire
Often considered as one of the most crucial tenets for a healthy society, the health care system is something that can never be compromised.
India is often regarded as the ‘Mecca’ of cheap health care systems attracting patients from throughout the globe. However, it is placed at 120 out of 190 countries by WHO’s world health report (2018) suggesting an inadequate delivery of services. Such disappointing figures can be mostly attributed to the improper functioning of the public health care system which has been unable to cater to the demands of the poor and the needy. While the opportunity to enter the market is very ripe, India still spends only around 4.2% (compared to 18% by the US) of its national GDP towards healthcare goods and services. There is a wide gap in the delivery of services between urban and rural areas. A gigantic proportion (70%) of the country’s population resides in rural areas and has no access to hospitals and clinics.
The coverage of maternity welfare to immunisation programmes have still not penetrated to quite a few sections of society. In such a scenario where there is an urgent need of govt. intervention, we find Private firms thriving with their share being as much as 80%. Despite the presence of stringent policies to curb private players involved in malpractices, citizens have to empty their pockets in order to access quality healthcare. Moreover, only 5% of the population is covered by health insurance policies (mostly urban class) leading to high out of pocket expenditure and unnecessary financial burden for poor families.
Picture -Indian Express
The country also faces an infrastructural shortage with an inadequate number of clinics, diagnostic equipment as well as doctors (less than 1 doctor per thousand people). Also, improper sanitation with poor connectivity issues further exacerbates all the key concerns above. The need for proper infrastructure continues to grow, especially in rural areas which fail to attract new graduates due to financial constraints. In spite of all the complications surrounding the Indian healthcare system, the Indian pharmaceutical sector has garnered respect across the world for its generic low-cost drugs which seem to be the major driver of this industry. It has catered to the need for cheap medicines in poor developing countries including India itself. Likewise, the medical devices sector has also registered a remarkable growth rate in the last decade.
The government in order to counter the grief-stricken health care system of the country has tried implementing several schemes in the past 15 years like Janani Suraksha Yojana, National Ayush Mission, Mission Indradhanush, etc. Some of the schemes have indeed been successful in bridging the countless gaps but still, there is a lot of scope for improvement. The Indian ambition of becoming a global superpower demands its citizens to have a sound mind and body and hopefully, it is possible with the right incentives being given to the health care system.