Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Universal health care(India): media push needed


S. Vishwanathan makes the following points

  1. Hardly five years ago, when multi-discipline hospitals started mushrooming in cities across the country, thanks to liberal support from the governments under the policy of privatisation and liberalisation, rising India celebrated their arrival. Many believed their arrival was a landmark in the history of health care in India. There was, further, the aspect of medical tourism. In sum, this was seen as the end of the search for a cost-effective and modern private medical service, with particular significance for the secondary and tertiary sectors.
  2. the Annual Report to the People on Health, which was published in September 2010, begins, understandably, with listing the achievements of the Indian government in the health sector. In terms of life expectancy, child survival, and reducing maternal mortality, the report notes, India's performance has improved steadily. Life expectancy at birth now is 63.5 years; the infant mortality rate is 53 per 1000 live births; and the maternal mortality rate is 254 per 100,000 live births. The report, however, calls attention to the wide variations across States in the improvement of these key human development indicators, and to the “inequities based on urban divides, gender imbalances, and caste patterns.”
  3. Now, the private sector is providing healthcare to about 80 precent of Outpatient population and 60 percent of Inpatient Volume.
  4. Further, “the private sector in India has a dominant presence in all the sub-markets such as medical education and training, medical technology and drugs and pharmaceutical manufacture and sale, hospital construction and ancillary services and finally, the provisioning of medical care.” In fact, more than 75 per cent of the human resources and advanced medical technology, 68 per cent of an estimated 15,097 hospitals and 37 per cent of 6,23,819 total beds in the country are in the private sector, most of which is located in urban areas.
  5. As a result, Govt hospitals are losing key skilled staff to private sector and conditons are get worse there.
  6. Author is requesting India Press to highlight this issue.

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