Increased Government Healthcare Spending : Need of the Hour
G. Saiteja Reddy – Student, Kautilya
India with a population of 1.3 billion is a nation of vast disparities on one hand there is a thriving urban populace in cities with modern , high-tech healthcare facilities available to them. Rural India is a stark contrast to the modern city – lack of basic infrastructure for health care is common in villages, towns across India. Moreover, there are multiple barriers to access to healthcare that is scarcely available in rural India. Lack of basic infrastructure, barriers to access to medical services and healthcare, sub standard health facilities and shortage of doctors and healthcare workers give us an estimation of the grave reality of the healthcare landscape in rural India.
One of the gravest realities facing India’s healthcare sector are the desolate conditions that healthcare workers are subjected to- healthcare workers struggle to make ends meet due to the dismal pay. It is common to observe healthcare workers such as ASHA workers who are female accredited social health activists working multiple odd jobs to make ends meet. ASHA workers are widely present on the ground.
It is imperative that in order for the Indian healthcare system to improve, the disparity that exists in matters of access to healthcare and healthcare worker wages must be addressed and resolved. The growth India has shown in terms of healthcare infrastructure in recent years deserves applause; however the divide between the rural and urban is becoming glaringly worse. The conditions of access to healthcare services in rural areas is appalling when compared with the access provided in urban areas.
The primary reasons that one frequents in order to rationalise the poor condition of healthcare in rural areas are lack of financial resources and inadequate access to medical personnel and technology. The privatization of healthcare has made access even more difficult, with high charges incurred in accessing medical care preventing individuals from going to medical institutions.
The World Health Organization has developed a medical services framework which judges the medical institutions of a country on the basis of how accessible clinical benefits are.In the case of India, the rural areas which are plagued with lack of proper health infrastructure and thus an impression is formed of whether neglect from the Government could be the reason for such poor healthcare services?
Investment in Rural healthcare services must become a priority area in which the Government must divert its attention to. This would entail focusing on establishing long lasting and sustainable healthcare infrastructure with the appropriate medical personnel and equipment based on the need of the specific area. The investment from the side of the Government must be contextual in nature, factoring in which area has what specific issues and the provision of the necessary facilities being on those basis.
In the contemporary era, privatization of healthcare has increased the insecurities of the masses. Questions related to accessing healthcare are prominent due to the economic conditions of the common man and thus, it is the duty of the government to ensure that its citizens have access to healthcare as mandated by Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. Right to health is guaranteed under Right to Life(Article 21) and it is the duty of the Government to formulate a mechanism for accessible healthcare. Such a step could be taken by focusing on Health Insurance. This would allow the common masses to access high-quality healthcare worrying about the cost. This could be further supplemented by having state-level initiatives which would sensitise rural populations on matters of health, the various public welfare programs and how one could access them.
It is disheartening to see that even though over 70% of India’s population resides in rural areas, rural areas are only able to utilize a marginal amount of the nation’s healthcare expenditure. This form of neglect has led to the present reality and disparity. The need that has to be fulfilled by the Government is addressing basic healthcare facilities after which the various additional challenges can be countered. The current system of healthcare has led to the disappointing health outcomes that our country is marred by and leads to the poor rankings in various global health indicators. Even within South Asia, India performs poorly in terms of medical infrastructure. The Indian Government has to take responsibility and take steps such as increased healthcare spending, forming public-private partnerships, and increasing taxes in order to improve access to its citizens.
If one looks at the larger picture, even though there have been minor advancements in the Indian Healthcare system, there needs to be much more done to guarantee that every Indian has access to high-quality healthcare, even though the government’s efforts to improve the system are encouraging.
Policymakers, healthcare professionals, and the general public must give India’s healthcare system immediate attention because it is a complex issue with many facets. To address the problems that the Indian healthcare system is experiencing, a comprehensive approach that includes boosting the infrastructure of the healthcare system, enhancing health insurance coverage, lowering out-of-pocket costs, enhancing access to healthcare, and increasing public funding for healthcare is required. By implementing these policies, India can provide all citizens with access to high-quality healthcare and improve overall health outcomes.
*The Kautilya School of Public Policy (KSPP) takes no institutional positions. The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author(s) and do not reflect the views or positions of KSPP.