Discuss the key problems in India's public health infrastructure establishing their link with India's development challenges.|
While India has done well in raising economic growth & lifting people out of poverty, progress in health outcomes has been rather slow. India faces a higher disease burden than other emerging economies. India still lags behind when it comes to indicators like mortality rate, malnutrition. In the assessment of Indian economy, OCED identified poor health outcome as one of the major developmental challenges.
Reasons behind poor Health outcome
Poor Primary Health Care infrastructure
- There is a shortage of Primary Health Centers(PHC) and Community Health Center(CHC) specifically in rural areas more than 70% of population lives. This weak primary health facilities hampers the productivity of workers & lowers their earning.
Shortage of human resource as well as unequal distribution
- There is a scarcity of skilled manpower. Even if they are they are mostly located in urban areas. A significant portion of doctor are under qualified.
Low public expenditure
- Though there has been an improvement in the expenditure still India’s health expenditure is one of the lowest in the world. Also, public investments in preventive health facilities such as sanitation and waste management is also low.
- Even when facilities are available they are of poor quality. Poorest people benefit less from the public health system than the better-off sections of society.
Medicine: availability, affordability & quality
- Because of low insurance coverage around 2/3rd of total out of pocket expenditure is on medicines making the treatment expensive. As per a research paper by TISS, out-of-pocket health expenditures account for nearly one-sixth of India’s poverty burden.
Expensive private healthcare
- Apart from that, the private health care is concentrated in tertiary healthcare. Cost of healthcare also acts as a deterrent for poor people in seeking treatment, leading to delays which aggravate the situation.
Weak accountability system & poor governance
- No accountability mechanism to ensure the facilities in government hospitals. Also, there is lack of coordination between Center & state.
New Health policy intends to improve health infrastructure. New health policy shifts the focus from “sick-care to Wellness” through preventive Health Care. The target is to increase Public Health expenditure to 2.5% of GDP. A major focus will be on Primary Health Care, the policy advocates allocation of at least 2/3 of resources to Primary Health Care.
India has a huge demographic dividend. However, it can be utilized only when the population is healthy. So a robust health infrastructure is essential to reap the benefits of the demographic dividend. The Vicious cycle of Poverty-Poor health-illiteracy needs to be broken for the development of the nation.