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Public Health System

There is a close interconnection between the health of the population and the economy.

What is the status of the healthcare system?

1. The people in India, especially the workers and their families, have contributed to unprecedented growth of the economy in the last three decades.

2. But India’s public expenditure on health at 1.28% of the GDP continues to be one of the lowest in the countries.

3. The Union and State governments have not been sensitive enough to realize the significance of public expenditure on health and put in place appropriate policies, institutions and personnel. 

4. In neoliberal economic policies, the “social sector” is often the first to be targeted for reduction in the name of fiscal austerity.

5. Despite being a member of the G-20, India’s record in healthcare and health outcome is a matter of concern.

6. Primary healthcare is one of the most neglected segments.

7. The availability of hospital beds and physicians is quite low in India.

Which are the inequalities in the system?

1. In India, there are extreme regional inequalities across states in healthcare.

2. 72% of total personnel involved in activities in health care institutions with inpatient facility is in urban areas that account for a little less than one-third of the population.

3. Corporate sector hospitals are mostly in large cities only.

4. The report on Health Index released by NITI Aayog in 2019 highlights the strong disparity across states.

5. There is also social inequality in healthcare.

6. The worst sufferers both in access to and outcome in healthcare belong to the Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) social categories. 

Where do we need to focus?

1. India’s massive health needs call for a people-centered, decentralized public health system that socializes the cost of healthcare. 

2. Kerala has a model system that has evolved through effective public demand, responsive government policies, and the institutionalization of a relatively strong Panchayati Raj with functions including health, finance and functionaries.

3. There should not be the growth of only profit-oriented and tertiary-care-focused corporate health sector.

4. The focus should be on improving public health care that can serve the masses.