There are a number of private health facilities in India. Private health facilities charge a lot of money. Hence poor people cannot afford these facilities.
Many doctors run their own private clinics. In rural areas one finds many registered medical practitioners (RMPs). Urban areas have large number of doctors also providing specialized services. There are many hospitals, nursing homes, and diagnostic centres that are privately owned.
There are many large companies that run many hospitals and are engaged in manufacturing and selling medicines. Medicine shops are found in every corner of the country.
Equality: Healthcare Perspective
In India we find that the private facilities are increasing but the public facilities are not. Hence mainly private services are available to people. The disadvantage of this is:
- Location: These are mainly concentrated in the urban areas.
- High cost: Since these are run with a profit motive they charge exorbitantly. Hence poor people cannot afford the same.
- In order to earn profit these private services engage in many malpractices. They unnecessarily recommend many tests and even hospitalization even in cases that can be treated with simple medicines.
Only 20% of the population can afford to pay all their medical expenses. Even those who are not very poor are not able to pay the same since these are prohibitively costly. Therefore many people have to borrow money (which starts a vicious circle) or sell their possessions for paying for their medical requirements.
For those who are poor, every illness causes a lot of anxiety and stress. They also tend to fall ill repeatedly. This is because of the following reasons:
- Malnourishment: The poor people are undernourished. They do not get to eat a balanced diet and hence miss out on the recommended daily quota of carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, iron, calcium, etc.
- Lack of basic facilities: The poor people do not have access to clean drinking water. They stay in dirty and ill ventilated, congested areas. These increase their chances of falling ill, manifold.
Other aspects that contribute to ill health
Apart from financial aspects, even the mindset of people is responsible for their ill health. For example, women are a downtrodden section of the society. Their health is often neglected and they are not taken to the hospital promptly.
Many tribal areas have few health centres and they are not run properly. Even private health services are not available.
How to improve?
It is clear from the above that the health of many people in our country is not in a good condition.
- The government has to take steps to improve the healthcare services especially aiming at the poor and underprivileged sections of the society.
- Improvement in the basic amenities and social conditions of the people will go a long way in improving their health conditions.
Building toilets in the rural areas as a part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is a step in improving the health of the people. Even spreading awareness regarding the need for toilets, through television and radio, mainly targeting the rural uneducated sections will considerably help in improving the health and sanitation of the people.
The Kerala experience
Some major changes were made by the Kerala government in 1996. The panchayats were allocated forty per cent of the state budget. This enabled the panchayats in planning and providing for their requirements well. This helped the village to make sure that proper planning was done for water, food and women's development and education.
Following steps were taken to improve the situation:
- Water supply schemes were checked.
- Proper working of schools and anganwadis was ensured.
- Steps were taken to solve the specific problem of the village.
- Health centres were improved.
Despite these efforts the following problems remained and needed to be addressed:
- Shortage of medicines and hospital beds
- Insufficient number of doctors
The Costa Rican approach
Costa Rica is amongst the healthiest nations in South America. This could be possible because of an important decision made by the Costa Rican government. Many years ago, Costa Rica decided not to have an army. It was assumed that instead of wasting the money on armed forces, it was more important to spend that on public health, education and on other basic needs of the people.
The Costa Rican government believes that a country needs to be healthy to ensure development. The government pays a lot of attention to aspects, like safe drinking water, sanitation, nutrition and housing. Health education is an essential part of education at all levels.
- Public: An activity or service that is meant for all people of the country and is mainly organized by the government. It includes schools, hospitals, telephones, etc.
- Private: An activity or service that is organized by an individual or company for their own profit.
- Medical tourists: This refers to foreigners who come to this country specifically for medical treatment at hospitals that offer world-class treatments at lower cost than their home countries.
- Communicable diseases: Diseases that are spread from one person to another through food, water, air, etc.
- OPD: It stands for out patient department. It is where people are first brought in the hospital for treatment without being admitted to a special ward.
Do you know?
According to UNICEF, more than two million children die every year in India from preventable infections.