Viewpoint: An Unhealthy Health Card

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

A high-decibel emphasis on economic growth notwithstanding, a multitude of states continues to do poorly on the indicators of social development, especially health. An unhealthy workforce cannot build a healthy economy. Over the past decade, the cost of treatment has seen a double-digit rise, far outpacing average inflation, in both rural and urban India, according to a recently published National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) report.

Shockingly, government hospitals in even poorer states show abysmally low patient registration. That should not be mistaken for people being healthier. Healthcare awareness programmes are not on governments’ agenda, even in better-off states. Only 4 per cent people reported some kind of illness in Chhattisgarh, 5.6 per cent did in Haryana. In contrast in Kerala, a state that has shown sound social parameters, 31 per cent of the population reported illness.

Public health experts are in agreement that out-of-pocket health expenditure is a reason for nearly one-sixth of India’s poverty burden. The high cost of healthcare turns many families bankrupt or homeless. Yet, little attention is paid to preventive public health, such as sanitation and waste management, lack of which is the foremost cause of rampant spread of infectious diseases.

The country witnessed 253 deaths per one lakh in 2012, the global average is 178. Even Nepal and Bangladesh have shown better healthcare parameters. The NDA government promised a transformation at least in sanitation, but the last one year has shown little change on that front.

Source: The Tribune (link opens in a new window)

Health Care
public health