Bill Gates to Narendra Modi: You Need to Generate New Healthcare Models for India

Friday, August 14, 2015

After over a year in power, the Narendra Modi government’s decisions to cut federal welfare spending on the poorest of India’s 1.25 billion people have come in for a sharp criticism, including from within his cabinet.

In a break with India’s Socialist past, Modi saved money on federal social and subsidy expenditure, and pumped it into an infrastructure stimulus he hopes will trigger a spurt in economic growth, a Reuters report had said.

Co-founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates in this op-ed piece, which was published in The Times of India, has addressed Modi and said that even though the healthcare system in India has improved quite a bit, it still is uneven from state to state:

Resources matter, but how they are used is just as important. India is immense and immensely complex. There is no existing health system model that can simply be applied to India. You need to generate new models. How can you provide high-quality care in vast rural areas where there are very few doctors? Given that so many Indians use private health providers, how can the government work with the private sector to improve care? How can such a sprawling health system produce and use data in real time to respond to what is happening on the ground? These are challenges India is wrestling with. You have the creativity and intellect to solve them, and I believe you also have the political commitment.

In this May 2015 article, Reuters quoted government sources and said that lower welfare spending will be compensated for by giving state governments a larger allocation of tax revenues to spend as they choose. But state chiefs, government officials and a cabinet minister have warned that the spending shakeup endangers the country’s most vulnerable.

Maneka Gandhi, women and child development minister in Modi’s cabinet, had said the impact of the policy will borne by India’s estimated 300 million poor. “This may result in a situation where the focus is lost on critical programmes related to malnutrition of children… nutrition for pregnant and lactating mothers,” Gandhi wrote in an 27 April letter to the finance minister, Reuters said.

In his first full-year budget, approved by Parliament on 7 May, Modi halved funding for a scheme that gives millions of poor children free food and drastically cut allocations to make clean water available in rural areas.

Source: Firstpost (link opens in a new window)

Health Care
infrastructure, nutrition, public health