With the World Health Organization’s 2000 World Health Report ranking India’s healthcare system at 112 out of 190 countries, some key questions should be: How should the country transform its healthcare system, What are its current pain points?
For those living in urban areas, healthcare is merely a political issue. Slackness to care for rural India’s health can prove to be disastrous.
India faces a growing need to fix its basic health concerns in the areas of HIV, malaria, tuberculosis and diarrhoea. Additionally, children under five are born underweight and roughly 7% (compared to 0.8% in the US) of them die before their fifth birthday. Sadly, only a small percentage of the population has access to quality sanitation, which further exacerbates some key concerns above.
For primary healthcare, the Indian government spends only about 30% of the country’s total healthcare budget. This is just a fraction of what the US and the UK spend every year. One way to solve this problem is to address the infrastructure issue, by standardizing diagnostic procedures, building rural clinics and developing streamlined health IT systems and improving efficiency. The need for skilled medical graduates continues to grow, especially in rural areas, that fail to attract new graduates because of financial reasons. A sizeable percentage of the graduates also go abroad to pursue higher studies and employment.
There is only one doctor per 1,700 citizens in India, the World Health Organisation (WHO) stipulates a minimum ratio of 1:1,000. While the Union Health Ministry figures claim that there are about 6-6.5 lakh doctors available, India would need about four lakh more by 2020—50,000 for PHCs; 0.8 lakh for community health centres (CHC); 1.1 lakh for 5,642 sub-centres and another 0.5 lakh for medical college hospitals.
If the shortage of doctors is one problem, their unwillingness to work in the rural hinterland is another, creating artificial scarcity in the area and high concentration in another causing hardship for the rural poor people increasing the out-of-pocket expenditure.
Surveys of rural healthcare facilities have revealed poor infrastructure, non-availability of medicines, equipment and even the basics.
A large chunk of medicine still remains out of reach of the common man. Out-of-pocket expenditure is still as high as 70%, over that international pressure to dilute the stringent IPR regime of India are points of concern. Generic medicines are highly underrated in the country where doctors sometimes prescribe expensive medicine.
Medical devices industry
The industry is still at a nascent stage of development. From 2000-12, the pharmacy industry received 10 billion dollars of FDI whereas this industry didn’t even receive 2% of it. The situation is problematic.
The government has recently announced 100% FDI in the medical devices industry but still this industry imports a lot of devices making it expensive for the doctors to implement them and this is ultimately a burden on the consumer in the end. The 100% FDI step can make the medical device industry more competitive and we can see a price decrease in near future but doctors should translate this reduction ultimately to the patient, which is again quite unrealistic.
Possible future goals that should be achieved or can be achieved:
- The healthcare system in 2020 will be worth 280 billion dollars
- Universal health coverage- this can be a big future bone of contention as no one has a realistic model suitable for the Indian land, moreover, there is no political conciseness.
- Strengthening of PPP model.
- IMR and MMR is still high this needs to be sorted out well
- Cost-effective medical solution
- More inclusiveness and allocation from the government to reduce the out-of-pocket expenditure.
Collaboration with the private industry and fostering awareness related to different schemes can actually bring changes in the health care industry but the government must learn from its mistakes and adapt quickly.
Disclaimer: The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a health care professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.