The poor state of public hospitals in India suggests that the answer to healthcare problems of the country lies in private sector. Discuss critically.

Published: September 9, 2017

As per Economic survey at the time of independence, public expenditure on health was an unusually low, 0.22 % of GDP and it has not increased much since then. Presently it is little over 1 % which is well below the world average of 5.99 per cent. The recent instances of deaths from preventable causes in Gorakhpur and Farrukhabad public hospitals reflect the abysmal state of public health in India. Survey also highlighted that in case of health and education there are insufficient instances of the good model.
Because of the poor state of public health in India majority of Indians prefer private health system rather than the public healthcare system. In fact, the reasons behind preference are availability, quality. People who visit public hospitals, often do so because of compulsion, either due to lack of presence of private healthcare, or when private health is not affordable for them.
However, this does not mean private health care can be the solution for the dismal state of public healthcare in India. Private healthcare is more expensive, sometimes it may involve unnecessary tests and procedures. For example, caesarean deliveries are more common in private facilities than in public hospitals. Also at the primary and secondary level, the quality of private healthcare is not much impressive. As per WHO report a large number of private medical practitioners in India do not have an adequate medical qualification, specifically in rural areas.
For a country where around 90 % of the population is involved in the unorganized sector and only around 15 % do have health insurance coverage, private healthcare can’t be a solution. The need of the hour is to improve the quality of public health care, private health care can supplement it not supplant it.
The quality of healthcare is essential to be the economic superpower because only a healthy India will be able to reap the benefits of the demographic dividend.

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