By Kanika Saini
Edited by Anandita Malhotra, Senior Editor, The Indian Economist
Where, BRAZIL spends 7.2%, RUSSIA spend 6.1%, CHINA spends 5%of GDP on heath care sector; South Africa spends 8.3% and INDIA spends only 1.3%of national GDP which is the pitifully low amongst BRICS nations. However the question arises is even after observing the rising population and increasing number of diseases in our nation, why aren’t Indian government making any efforts to resolve this issue.
It’s vital enough to understand that the sector requires heavy dose of investment; if government still remain on spending of 1% of the GDP as usual, the target may never be achieved. Hence it’s indispensable to go up to 6% of the GDP out of which government investment in the sector must go up to 3% if we have to bring parameters of country comparable to western levels. But this might not be enough to robust heath care system.
In order to develop the sustainable health care system, there is need of immediate action to give priority to healthcare agenda; government needs to define a framework for healthcare system and commits to spend more on public health.
But it’s not enough to say that sole responsibility of this whole scenario lie with government only. The private firms also play major role in same frame. According to world organization data most of the investments in the last decade were made by the private sector, with the central government expenditure on health as a percentage of total expenditure being at 31% as against the world median of 61% which is lowest amongst BRICS nations.
Low heath parameters within the country deteriorate the quality of life of people, harming economic development therefore the very first priority is to have equality in development in both rural and urban areas, The Indian health care system is characterized by vast discrepancies between urban and rural areas. Firstly, 70% of population still lives in rural areas, who do not have access to proper hospitals and clinics and lack of sanitation facilities, rural areas fail to attract skilled medical graduates due to financial reasons but it too happens in urban areas where doctors move abroad for better remunerations. Moreover the out of pocket expenditure remains very high at 60%, due to extremely limited insurance coverage. As a large number of patients slip into poverty each year, trying to meet the cost of treatment and therefore we need to popularize heath insurance and increase heath care awareness among the masses.
We cannot say that country hasn’t made any efforts in improving this sector ;it definitely has but, the growth was really slow since past decades, we have overcome diseases like tuberculosis, polio ,chicken pox but the reality is they aren’t completely disappeared they still prevails. India has the highest number of cases of leprosy malaria, measles and tuberculosis according to WHO statistics 2014 , some non communicable diseases are still rising which accounts for 58% of deaths and the treatment cost for the same is nearly double than that of any other illness. With the rising population statistics show that there is 1 doctor per 1800 people whereas it should be almost 1 doctor per 600 people. Also, mortality rates for mothers and children is worst among BRICS ;china has 3.2,south Africa 120,Russia 24,brazil 69 and India 190 which is lowest among all.
Also, the 12thplan that is India’s “health plan” highlights the inadequacy of the infrastructure. Compared to other BRICS nations, there are fewer doctors, nurses and hospital beds, exacerbated by wide geographical variations across the country and rural areas are especially poorly served. Thus it’s high time for India to give more priority to this sector to deliver an outcome-based healthcare for the 1.22 billion Indians and robust healthcare sector with more investment, medical education, technology and infrastructure.
Kanika Saini is currently carrying out with her economics honors degree from a renowned institute of India, lady shri ram college for women.she is from gurgaon and did her schooling from “summer fields school “.she has been working in NGO as a volunteer for a year at “Indian cancer society”.she volunteered at various cancer institutes including AIMS ,prashanti cancer centre etc.she also did street plays on awarness of breast cancer at medanta hospital ,gurgaon. She is currently working as a HR intern in marketing department of a travel agency “made to travel”.she is now a part of a prestigious “the economics times” columnist program,as a intern.