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Health for All remains a myth

Health for All remains a myth
Highlights

It is neither shocking nor surprising that India languishes at the bottom, i.e., 143, in healthcare ranking, considering the pervasive neglect that plagues the entire gamut of health indices.

It is neither shocking nor surprising that India languishes at the bottom, i.e., 143, in healthcare ranking, considering the pervasive neglect that plagues the entire gamut of health indices. Such a pathetic and abysmal situation is only to be expected in tune with the track record of the country being consigned and confined to the depths in ranking in all spheres of development.

Attempts by ruling political establishments and bureaucrats to paint a rosy picture with claims that India’s populace is in the pink of health cannot camouflage the sore thumb that stands out conspicuously to present a narrative of prevalent pathos. It is a matter of shame that a majority of people in the country and those specifically in the rural areas do not have access to basic healthcare facilities.

Most primitive living conditions generally associated with under-developed countries, impoverished patients and their families being subjected to excruciating ordeals of trekking miles, carrying the sick and the debilitated on their shoulders, to reach hospitals provide vivid evidence of government insouciance.

Diseases and epidemics continue to stalk villages with access to preventive and emergency medical aid remaining in realms of myth. India has the dubious distinction of being among countries with the highest child malnutrition and infant mortality rates. India is also ranked second in the number of Tuberculosis incidence. All such dubious ‘highs’ can be attributed to the lows in terms of infrastructure and services as reflected in doctor to population ratio, primary health centre to population ratio, and infrastructure to population ratio.

According to a study, India has one government doctor for every 11,528 people and one nurse for every 483 people and one primary health centre covering 30 villages. That healthcare has never been a priority on the agenda of the government becomes obvious in the budgetary allocations made for this crucial sector.

As if following or adhering to a tradition, the allocation was a mere 2.27% of the total budget, i.e. around 49,000 crore, which even by most conservative estimates is grossly insufficient to meet even the basic healthcare infrastructure and services’ requirements. It is high time the government wakes up from slumber and demonstrates a sense of commitment, and implements remedial measures to cure the sick healthcare segment, before it assumes chronic proportions and reach a point of no return.

Ruling political establishments should stop being too obsessive about focusing only on those areas which ensure them returns in the form of votes. We have been hearing so much of noise from successive governments for decades together about creating the system to ensure “health for all.” But, as with all such sloganeering, this has also proved to be high on rhetoric and low on implementation.

“Health for all” continues to remain a myth with not even 10% to 15% of India’s populace having access to proper healthcare. Government should stop nursing the notion that heavy doses of hype, hyperboles and platitudes are the panacea for deficiencies afflicting the healthcare sector in India.

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