– by Ankana Mitra
The population is India‘s one of the biggest strengths. But do we have enough facilities to cater to this huge population? In spite of being one of the largest economies, why India’s public healthcare system is rotting? Why government hospitals in the country still lack basic facilities? Why people have to wait to get treated in public hospitals? On the contrary, private hospitals are blooming with innovative technology and modern equipment. Ironically, more than half of India’s population falls in the poor or lower-middle-class category, which means they cannot afford these private hospitals. The only option they have is to deal with the pitiable condition of the public health centers. Along with the scarcity of doctors and the nursing staff, their security has also become one of the biggest problems, nowadays. Every now and then, patients’ relatives bash up the doctors, sometimes causing fatalities as well. This further deteriorates the condition and reputation of India’s Public Healthcare system.
As described by Forbes, “India faces a growing need to fix its basic health concerns in the areas of HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, and diarrhea. Additionally, children under five are born underweight and roughly 7% (compared to 0.8% in the US) of them die before their fifth birthday”. When compared to the healthcare sector of foreign countries like Japan, the U.S., Canada, and Singapore, India lags far behind in the public health sector. In India, the total expenditure on healthcare (as a percentage of GDP) is just 4%, whereas in the US it is 17%. The nation is struggling with social basics, as clean drinking water, sufficient nutrition, hygiene and access to healthcare are challenges still to be met.
In India, there is an imbalance in the quality of care, and the treatment varies broadly between urban and rural areas. The people living in the urban area, who generally fall under the middle and upper-middle-class group, get comparatively high-quality care. However, the majority population of the country, who lives in rural areas, gets extremely limited access to even marginally good health care. They only have to rely on the local clinic, homeopathic medicines, or homemade remedies, in case spared by the quacks or the Jhola-Chap doctors, as known popularly.
Recently in Muzaffarpur, Bihar, the death toll of children went up to 115 due to acute encephalitis syndrome. Sumitra Devi of Paru village, one of the victims whose minor granddaughter was admitted to Sri Krishan Medical Collage and Hospital, Muzaffarpur, confessed that she wasted two days. “I initially took my granddaughter to a village quack and then to a sorcerer. When her condition did not improve I was advised by people to come to SKMCH,” Sumitra said.
This does not end here! If you visit any public hospitals, you will witness the patient lying on the floor of the corridors. Shockingly according to a survey, there is only 1 doctor for every 10,189 patients. Due to this negligence by the authority, there is almost 20% of all maternal death and 25% of all child deaths in the world occur in India and every 34 out of 1000 children are dead by the time they are 5 years old. According to an another study, almost 122 Indians per 100,000 die due to poor quality of care every year, which is worse than that of Brazil (74), Russia (91), China (46) and South Africa (93) and including the neighbouring nations like Pakistan (119), Nepal (93), Bangladesh (57) and Sri Lanka (51).
It is quite ironical that on one hand, we live in a country where, we feel proud that our nation is achieving such great success in the field of medicine and on the other hand, it is the matter of great shame and disgrace that the health care in India alleged to be involved in corruption and unethical practice for a very long time now.
Despite the government’s many progressive steps like National Health Mission, Ayushman Bharat, National Mental Health Program, Ministry of Family Health Welfare, etc. there is still a long way to go. The government did come up with a different kind of awareness through TV channels and went up to the remote areas to make people aware of hygiene. But, the problem is that these initiatives are not sufficient.
In the end, the questions remain that why there is so much disconnection in the communication between the government and common people? Why there is so much difference between other countries and India’s health care centers? And, unfortunately, the only answer to this biggest malfunction is “Corruption”.