OPINION: The paradox that is Indian healthcare

Friday, August 1, 2014

The best and the worst of facilities exist cheek by jowl. This glaring contradiction needs to be addressed

India is an ancient land, where the concept of Ayurveda evolved centuries ago, well before the allopathic branch of medicine was even discovered. Susruta and Charaka were pioneers in medicine in times when the concept of modern medicine was nowhere on the horizon.

However, in a remarkable irony, we have squandered our legacy of being innovators and are now considered as a developing country in healthcare.

As a developing nation, the demand for quality healthcare is growing fast. Therefore, it is imperative that the policymakers channelise the growth of healthcare services so that it caters to every section of our society.

For prevention

The first step towards this change should be a move from curative healthcare to preventive healthcare. This will not be an expensive affair; it will also help us reach out to a larger population base.

The Government needs to make a more effective intervention in the area of preventive and primary healthcare. Also, it needs to move away from being just a healthcare provider to an insurer at the tertiary level. It could refer to universal healthcare efforts such as the NHS in the UK or Medicare in the US.

Over the next five years the Government’s healthcare spend should increase to at least 5 per cent of the GDP compared to a little over 1 per cent now — which is low in relation to the developed nations.

India needs a major revamp of the healthcare infrastructure, which includes upgrading primary healthcare systems to provide preventive healthcare. Awareness on preventive healthcare measures, nutrition, prenatal care, vaccinations and counselling on the importance of hygienic practices — like sanitation and clean drinking water — should be pursued aggressively.

Source: The Hindu Business Line (link opens in a new window)

Health Care
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