Healthcare in India
There were high hopes of the government finally focusing on improving the health sector, as it had been an important component of the BJP's election manifesto. Coming as quite the contrary, the government has slashed the health budget by 20% (6000 crore). Considering the fact that India only spends 1% of its current GDP on healthcare as it is, a further budget cut in this sector can lead to some grave repercussions. It is noteworthy that India's spending on healthcare is already among the lowest in the world - China spends 3% and the US 8.5% of their respective GDPs.
Healthcare in India is already dominated by private organizations and the government network is sub-par at best. The budget cut will tend to gravitate the masses towards private healthcare, while reducing chances for the health ministry to improve government health infrastructure, especially in rural areas. This puts the poorest at the mercy of the expensive and often unscrupulous private healthcare providers.
This decreased spending puts various disease control initiatives at risk; for example, the HIV/AIDS control program, which is facing a 30% cut as part of this overall reduction. India also has one of highest infant mortality rates, mostly due to preventable diseases but lack of resources to check them. Its anyone's guess how the healthcare spending cut will affect these health initiatives.
Most of us who read this article have probably never set foot in a government hospital. We can afford private healthcare. But let us remember that India is home to more than 120 crore poorest of the poor. People for whom government healthcare is the only option.
The Modi government is taking this action to achieve its 2014 -15 fiscal deficit target of 4.1% of GDP. But is the price of the progress to be paid with people's health? A Logical Indian wouldn't agree. Basic governmental priorities such as health and education must not be sidelined. Surely, cancelling or setting aside projects such as the Rs. 3000 Cr Statue of Unity would have made more sense than slashing healthcare expenditure?
Source: Reuters more
The recent botched up sterilization surgeries at Chattisgarh and the cataract surgeries at Haryana demonstrate the miserable conditions to which the poor people are subjected and the complete negligence of the government to health sector. The above mentioned incidences are just a few that have come to light due to the scale of deaths but there are still hundreds of people losing lives in the hands of quacks in remote areas of our country.
Investments in health sector and increasing awareness about health among poor communities are imperative. It is disheartening to know that instead of paying increased attention to the health sector, government has decided to cut down costs in that area more