President Pranab calls for universal healthcare in India; Is it feasible?
New Delhi: Ever since the new government has come to power, allocations of many essential services have gone down. This is disappointing indeed.
More disappointing is the silence being maintained by the media. The same 24X7 media that haunted former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is maintaining studied silence for the last ten months.
But now the President seems to have taken note of it. President Pranab Mukherjee hit the right note when he said yesterday that we need to make the health more affordable and increase health allocation.
The President of India, while inaugurating the Mid-Term Meet 2015 of the National Interventional Council of the Cardiological Society of India, said a significant rise in health expenditure is urgently required to ensure universal health coverage.
Emphasizing the importance of higher allocation in healthcare he said, â€œA healthcare system, which is universally accessible, affordable and effective, is crucial for a developing country like India. Considering that we are a sixth of humanity, a significant rise in health expenditure is urgently required to ensure universal health coverageâ€. He said that to build such a system, we require robust healthcare infrastructure, trained and motivated personnel, and better access to medicines and equipments.
He went on to add, â€œThere are 7 hospital beds per 10,000 population in India, compared to 23 in Brazil, 38 in China and 97 in Russia. In terms of healthcare professionals, we again lag behind the other BRIC countries. There are 7 physicians per 10,000 population in India, compared to 19 in Brazil, 15 in China and 43 in Russiaâ€¦Though schemes like the National Health Mission have improved service delivery, health services in India still suffer from lack of reach and constraints of qualityâ€¦We fare below our BRIC peers on this count as well. India’s per capita government expenditure on health in PPP terms is US Dollar 44, as against 809 in Russia, 474 in Brazil and 236 in Chinaâ€.
This is the most scathing attack on the new government by a sage. The President said a health insurance mechanism that can take care of all is the need of the hour. “As per estimates, about 216 million people in India or 17 percent of the population were covered under various health insurance schemes as at end-March 2014. We need to do much more to bring the uncovered population under the health security net. An insured population will also be a healthy population, which will exhibit a greater propensity to seek education, acquire knowledge and access job opportunities,” he added. He also said that good health and fitness of the people will truly be a reflection of our country’s progress.