Health facilities favour the rich: Sainath

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Mumbai, Feb 1: Health facilities favour the rich and the urban areas more than the poor and the rural areas, according to Magsaysay awardee P Sainath. Mr Sainath was speaking after releasing a report on ''Health Inequities in Maharashtra'' which has been prepared by Support and Advocacy and Training to Health Initiatives (SATHI) and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS).

Mr Sainath said the gap between the urban and the rural areas was expanding as is the divide between the rich and the poor. ''The problem is everywhere in the world and not only here as the poor have very little access to the costly medical facilities,'' he added.

SATHI project in-charge Dr Nilangi Sardeshpande, speaking on the occasion, said the State should guarantee equal healthcare access to all its citizens. ''There are massive healthcare differences between the rich and the poor,'' Dr Sardeshpande rued.

SATHI senior programme co-ordinator Dr Abhay Shukla said that the economic growth and higher average per capita income in Maharashtra had not translated into equal healthcare resources to the rich and the poor.

Professor at TISS, Lakshmi Lingam, who assisted in compiling the report, said there was no accountability of the allotted funds and there was no strong political will to do so.

The report pointed out huge discrepancies between the urban and the rural areas, with 140 allopathic hospitals in urban areas for a population of one lakh compared to just 24 per lakh in rural areas.

The urban areas were having 432 hospital beds for one lakh of population, while the rural areas had to do with 22 beds. The public health spending in urban areas was about Rs 275 per individual, while it was Rs 114 in the rural areas, the reports states.

According to the report, there was no dearth of money with the State or the Central government. The government had allotted enough funds for improving healthcare in the rural as well as urban areas, but there was a lack of implementation of the government policies, the report said.


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