Monday, December 31, 2012

Poor healthcare and ailing India-HT Delhi 31.12.2012

THE WRAP: Rural India suffered, public healthcare floundered

Despite the best medical minds and hi-tech medical townships, India’s public healthcare delivery continues to flounder.
World Health Statistics data 2012 showed that 39 million people in India are pushed into poverty each year and one of the reasons is expensive healthcare. Around 47% of all rural hospital admissions and 31% of admissions in urban India are financed by loans and sale of assets. Little wonder then that almost one in three people in rural India did not seek treatment because they couldn’t afford it.
And yet India’s healthcare spending remains a shoe-string 4.2% of GDP, which means as many as 86.4% of medicals bills are mostly out-of-pocket spending or money people spend from their own savings.
This makes India’s private spend among the highest in the world, comparing poorly not only with developed countries (US 23.4% and France 33.1%), and developing economies (Brazil 57.2% and Thailand 59.6%), but also neighbours Nepal, Sri Lanka and Pakistan (72.4%, 82.5% and 81.9%) respectively.
What can change all this is the Universal Health Coverage (UHC), meant to offer free and cashless treatment to everyone at all district hospitals and primary health centres and sub-centres by 2017.
But as always, implementation is the key — for the UHC to work, primary health centres and sub-centres need to be strengthened, which, despite efforts, has not happened over the years.
— Sanchita Sharma
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