Late last year, after the new government came to power, PM Modi was seen to be much inclined towards the cause of better healthcare in India.
He not only stressed upon the importance of cleanliness and hygiene, but on many occasions said how his government wanted to effectively help health care policies to reach poorest of the poor Indians.
Meanwhile, it wouldn’t be outlandish to say that Indian healthcare system has had its share of victories over the last few decades. In fact, India was declared polio-free in 2014. Undeniably, this is seen as a notable achievement since the country accounted for more than 50% of the world’s polio cases in 2009.
The life expectancy in India may have improved from 32years of age a few decades ago, to over 65years of age in the present day scenario, healthcare in India is still the least discussed topic. There may be endless debates on news channel or enough hue and cry over the turbid drinking water, healthcare challenges in India fail to become history. In fact, closer examination reveals the emergence of dangerous fault lines that if remain unaddressed for longer period of time, put the health of one-sixth of human population at critical risk.
Early this year, the World Health Organisation (WHO) maintained that for India to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC), the country should re-organize its healthcare delivery system with the right mix and distribution of services. At the same time, we cannot deny that Indian economy is brimming, opening up avenues of growth for the Indian middle-class, and giving an entire generation an easy access to technology and knowledge. Unfortunately, the glowing effects of a flourishing economy are not to be found in the system of healthcare in India. While successive governments may have committed to numerous developmental goals, there is a dearth of a dedicated program with focus on resolving India’s healthcare challenges. It may not come as a surprise if we say that the substandard regulatory scenario, knowledge and infrastructure deficit, and incompetent public healthcare expenditure made India stand at a meagre 112 rank out of 190 on the WHOs world health report ranking.
All is not lost, though. The primary aim of the National Health Policy, 2015, is to inform, clarify, strengthen and prioritize the role of the Government in shaping health systems in all its dimensions investment in health, organization and financing of healthcare services, prevention of diseases and promotion of good health through cross sectoral action, access to technologies, developing human resources, encouraging medical pluralism, building the knowledge base required for better health, financial protection strategies and regulation and legislation for health. This paragraph outlining the vision of government is the part of National Health Policy 2015 draft.
With the present governments’ focus on improving healthcare in India, there are a few major issues plaguing healthcare in India that the govt. must willingly take up.
Reducing out-of-pocket expenditure
According to the Ministry of Health, nearly 63 million people are faced with poverty every year due to "catastrophic" expenditure they incur over healthcare. In addition to this, only a very small percentage of Indians have health insurance policies in India.
And until the right mechanisms are put in place, ensuring that out-of-pocket healthcare expenditure incurred by people comes down, the OOP expenditure will continue to disengage all the economic progress made by the Indians.
Lack of resources
Despite being a rapidly growing economy, India spends meagre resources on its healthcare needs. In fact, the overall expenditure on public healthcare in India has contracted over the time given that India spends only about 1 percent of its GDP on public health. In fact, if experts are to be believed India must spend a substantial funds to reach the global acceptable levels of child and maternal mortality rates. The government may raise the resources in numerous ways right from reallocating subsidies to optimizing welfare budgets and in particular, by working in harmony with the state governments.
Recognizing the importance of skills
The lesser number of skilled and well-learned medical graduates, in particular in rural India is turning out to be the biggest roadblock facing the healthcare system in India. In fact, its effect has been such that no fresh graduates are inclined to serve the rural community thanks to abject living conditions. At the same time, this is the area where investments by government can do wonders. Dedicating resources towards training and education of skilled workforce, competitive pay and creating standard living conditions will make sure that public healthcare in India is in the hands of well-qualified people.
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