Healthcare in India in dire state, will government pay attention?

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Healthcare high on Narendra Modi's agenda.
The Indian health scenario is beset with a multitude of problems at present and with the first budget of Modi Government five days away, hopes are high that heed will be paid to this sector too.

As per a report in businesstoday, "The infant mortality rate in India is seven times that of the United States and three times that of China; almost two-thirds of babies in rural areas are born without the aid of skilled health personnel. India has 63 million diabetics and 2.5 million cancer sufferers, the majority of whom will not be diagnosed, much less treated.

"Seventy per cent of India's 20 million blind people could be helped with simple surgery - if it were available. Less than five per cent of the 2.5 million Indians annually who need heart surgery get it. Although India has 750,000 doctors and 1.1 million nurses, practitioner density is about one-fourth that of America and less than half that of China. And there is a severe shortage of hospital beds and medical facilities."

It’s high time for government to double its spending on health care sector

With these figures, the only thing that comes to one's mind is, a complete overhaul is needed in the Indian health system and rebuilding the health system has to be a high priority on the governments list.

According to the World Bank data, India spends around 4 percent on health. The Modi government should raise this figure, which is lowest spending figure on health as proportion of its GDP, by a few points to improvise things in this sector. The point to be noted is, out of 4 per cent of our GDP on health, 70 per cent of it comes from people's own pockets which means that the government's expenditure is even lesser.

The current dispensation should firmly make a provision for an increase in the healthcare budget as it will ensure that pocket expenditure of patients will come down, thereby reducing the economic burden on the common man.

There is also a need to carry out thorough review of existing health policies and launching new policies to improve things in this sector.
Reducing the import duty on medical equipments and devices procured by hospitals in smaller cities is another step which will encourage the delivery of high quality healthcare to semi-urban and rural areas.

The government should also concentrate on bringing down the cost of drugs mainly for the treatment of diseases like cancer, diabetes and cardiac diseases as this will ensure affordable treatment for all. In these chronic diseases India is on the top rank top among the world.

There have been instances when the death of a patient is attributed to lack of medical care facilities in the hospitals. And one such example is when the parents and kin of 23 children died in last year's Saran school food-poisoning incident in Bihar.

Clearly, the state of healthcare systems in our country is pathetic. With Narendra Modi at the helm, hopes are high that his Government will focus on the dire state of healthcare sector and bring some relief for the people.

The National Health Assurance Mission proposed by BJP in its manisfesto, which is considered to be very close to the Prime Minister's heart, could be a big gamechanger for the dream of a healthier India.

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