Government must increase spending

National Health Profile (NHP) 2018:

  • The National Health Profile (NHP) 2018 was released recently by the ministry of health and family welfare.
  • The health finance indicators along with information on health infrastructure and human resources in health reveal many steps still to be taken in the country.
  • Good on healthcare indicators:
    • The gains in healthcare indicators reflect progress, including:
      • 22% reduction in maternal mortality since 2013
      • Improvements in infant mortality rates
      • Reduction in incidence and prevalence of some of the communicable diseases
  • But Public health expenditure lagging:
    • However, India’s public health expenditure—1% of its gross domestic product (GDP), a negligible improvement from 0.98% in 2014—is still behind many countries, including some low-income categories.
    • Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Nepal, much smaller in size, spend 2.5%, 1.6% and 1.1% of their respective GDPs on health.
    • It is hoped that the expenditure will increasing in the coming years, with the government proposing to raise the public health expenditure to 2.5% of the GDP by 2025 (as envisaged under the National Health Policy 2017).

 

Deficit of health care personnel:

  • As NHP 2018 indicates, the shortage of doctors is a problem most felt in in rural areas where there is one allopathic doctor catering to over 11,000 people.
  • In the last few years, there has been some improvement in availability of doctors at the primary and community health centres.

But just the numbers is not enough:

  • Simply increasing seats in undergraduate and post-graduate institutions and opening more medical colleges is not a holistic approach to improving healthcare facilities.
  • Factors like accountability, accessibility, and affordability of healthcare services and related issues have to be taken care of.
  • The quality of services and infrastructure for diagnosis and investigations at the primary and community health centres also needs to be improved.

 

Shortfall in budgetary allocation to the health sector:

  • A top concern in improving healthcare services and facilities in the country relates to the budgetary allocation to the health sector.
  • For example, the ministry of health and family welfare received only Rs. 30,000 crore—as it did for FY19, against a projected plan outlay of about Rs. 35,000 crore under the National Health Mission (NHM).
  • The shortfall in budgetary allocation will affect many aspects of healthcare, including the health infrastructure and manpower in the country.
  • It will impact the implementation of programmes aimed at reducing the burden of non-communicable and communicable diseases.

States must also utilize funds fully:

  • Equally important in meeting healthcare requirements of the people is for the states to utilise all of the allocated healthcare funds.
  • A study found that only 55% of allocated funds were spent by the states in 2017, with some states using less than 50%.

 

All aspects of healthcare need to be taken care of:

  • In India, as health status statistics indicate, the burden of non-communicable diseases is growing while there is still much to be desired in reducing the impact of communicable diseases.
  • The out-of-pocket expenditure on healthcare is high in India,and the government should adopt ways to reduce it.
  • Not only vaccination needs significant expansion, but also there is a need for newer interventions to reduce the incidence and prevalence of chronic ailments and various non-communicable diseases.
  • Emphasis needs to be laid on providing formal long-term care facilities and palliative care provisions to meet the increase in demand for such facilities.

 

Conclusion:

  • The goal is to provide universal, equitable, affordable, quality services and infrastructure to meet the health needs of the population.
  • The success of Modicare is dependent on significantly lowering the cost of healthcare and scaling up healthcare facilities.
  • This requires a commitment towards increasing healthcare expenditures.

 

Importance:

GS Paper II: Social Issues

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