Will the New Government be good for India’s Health ?
India has been leading the developing world by constructing exemplary benchmarks in numerous fields of economic and social development. These benchmarks are being continuously assessed and measured at the regional and global levels to ascertain precisely the level of our nations’ growth and prosperity.
India recently elected a fresh new government spearheaded by of Shri. Narendra Modi after a promising campaign and much is expected of the newly elected office of ministers. On occasion of India’s 68th Independence Day, Mr. Prime Ministers revelations were indicative of what is to be expected of the government.
The primary focus of the new government is to enable India to be a leader in the manufacturing industry through skill-building, entrepreneurship development and empowerment of the masses. The emphasis on ensuring separate toilets in every school for girls and the need to address garbage disposal issue in terms of health, hygiene and sanitation is also being realized as a shared responsibility between the government and the corporate sector, with corporate giants such as TCS etc. pledging crores of rupees for the much needed initiative. Fostering access to quality education and healthcare facilities is also major agenda on the Governments’ schema for development and there are high hopes from the Budget for this sector.
The government is strongly focused on bringing about a revolution in the healthcare industry by ensuring availability, affordability and accessibility of various health products and services right up to the grass-root level although the current state of health in India presents a major challenge in realizing this vision.
Infant Mortality Rates (IMR) in India is seven times that of United States and three times that of its largest neighbor China, as per a report in Money Control and the Government must focus on strengthening its efforts in generating awareness regarding Zinc-ORS for treatment of childhood Diarrhoea.
EHI International in association with Micronutrient Initiative India is directly tackling the issue in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat by creating awareness, generating demand and assessing behavioral change in the mothers as well as health care service providers regarding Zinc-ORS treatment for treatment of Childhood Diarrhoea.
In the field of health, India faces several tough challenges with very common but serious diseases including Diabetes (6.3 crore diabetics) and Cancer (25 lakh patients), who die due to lack of early diagnosis and lack of access to diagnostic facilities. According to the same report in Money Control, the country has 20 million blind people, 70% of whom can be treated with simple surgery, but lack of access to facilities is a major hindrance there.
To further depict the current situation of healthcare in India, there are 25 lakh patients in need of a surgery and organ donation is still considered a taboo. The doctor-patient ratio is also abysmal in several states with one doctor catering to over a thousand patients in the state of Uttar Pradesh. The practitioner density is about a quarter of USA and less than half of that of China.
According to a DNA report, the Government claims that it spends over 4 % GDP on health, but the reality is that 70% of it constitutes patients’ own spending or private spending, which means the Government hardly spends 1% on health. The report adds that India falls under the category of countries that spend lowest on healthcare in the world, falling behind even Nigeria at Rank 171 out of 175 countries!
Clearly, there is indeed much to be done in the field of healthcare to ensure India’s progress can be measured on the yardstick of human development.
According to an Economic Times report, the Government is poised to take sensible, pro-business measures to support healthcare industry in the nation by increasing healthcare expenditure to up to 2.5% of the GDP and allowing FDI in Health and Medical Services and will introduce exemption of taxes on life-saving drugs and material for research and development, especially medicines used for treatment of Cancer, AIDS and other critical infections and diseases.
The Government is also proposing to make India the hub of Bio-tech and Bio-manufacturing by fostering research and development in healthcare and strengthening the infrastructure of Medical Colleges and other support organizations.
Gujarat under the command of Mr. Modi saw several significant improvements in the healthcare sector including the overall increase in allocated budget and launch of numerous state-level health schemes. The NRHM under the new government is expected to undergo a revamp and be re-launched with enhanced vigor and valor as the National Health Assurance Mission and could be a revolution in realizing the dream of Healthy India.
EHI International wishes the new Government all the very best in their efforts and continues to contribute to development of healthcare for a healthy and prosperous India.