global health

Health Policy No Remedy To An Ailing System

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  • India ranks at 143 in global health index of 188 countries

The Government expenditure on health sector is massive but equally massive is the mess. General public do not get timely, proper and adequate health-related services in the government hospitals etc. Besides, there is no control over the spread of diseases. The stark reality remains that there are no adequate doctors, medicines, and facilities in government hospitals, especially in rural areas. What the new health policy of Modi government would do, inquires Dharmendra Tripathi of the2is:-

After a gap of 15 years, the Government of India has come up with a new health policy. The focus is on providing quality health and care facilities to all.

Features of new health policy:

  1. Increasing average mortality age from 67.5 years to 70 years.
  2. Decreasing average mortality rate of children below the age of 5 years to 23.
  3. Decreasing infant mortality rate from 37 to 16.
  4. Decreasing still birth rate to a single digit by the year 2025.
  5. Eradication of Leprosy by 2018.
  6. Eradication of vector borne diseases and filariasis by 2017.
  7. Eradication of Tuberculosis by 2025
  8. Concentration on spreading awareness about health.
  9. Decreasing rate of heart diseases, cancer, and diabetes and breathing problems by 25% by the year 2025.
  10.  Decreasing rate of heart diseases, cancer, and diabetes and breathing problems by 25% by the year 2025.

Deaths due to various diseases in India

Heart Diseases:

Prof. Rishi Sethi, cardiologist at KGMU, Lucknow, says that India has the most number of heart patients. In India, almost 25% deaths are due to heart diseases. On the other hand, 235 people in 1 lakh suffer from heart diseases globally whereas in India this number is 272.

High Blood Pressure:

According to The Great Indian B.P. Survey 2015, one-third population of India suffers from high blood pressure. In accordance to the numbers presented in the ‘Lancet’ magazine, in the year 1990, 76 lakh people died of high blood pressure in India. This has increased to 1.65 Crore in 2013.

Tuberculosis:

According to a report of WHO., deaths due to TB have more than doubled in the year 2015. In 2014 such deaths were 2.20 Lac, which increased to 4.80 Lac in 2015. About 27% of the world’s TB cases are from India. The number of new cases of TB in 2014 was 22 Lac which increased to 28 Lac in 2015.

Diabetes:

According to a 2016 report of WHO, the number of diabetes patients in India has doubled in the last 13 years. In 2013, the number of diabetes patients was 3.2 Crore which increased to 6.3 Crore in 2015. In 2015, 1.28 Crore people died due to diabetes.

Cancer:

In India, every year 7 Lac new cancer patients are registered. According to National Cancer Registry, every day 1,300 deaths occur due to cancer. The number of deaths have increased by 6% from 2012 (29,34,314 ) to 2014 (4,78,180).

No right to health benefits

The first and the foremost objection about the new health policy is that it doesn’t gives Right to  Health as on the lines of Right to Education etc. Unless health related services are considered as a right, any effort would prove to be futile. In fact, the draft policy had suggested incorporation of Right to Health but the states were not in its favour. Earlier it was also suggested to impose a Health Cess but it was not included in the final draft.

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Dearth of Facilities

India has a shortage of 24 Lac nurses and 14 Lac doctors. Besides, there is grave shortage of specialists also. The situation is even worse in rural areas where there is a shortage of around 82% of the requirement.  There are only 1.53 Lac health centres and 85,000 primary health centres which are too less in view of a population of over 1.25 Billion.  In Uttar Pradesh only 128 out of 828 community health centres have x-ray machine. According to the research firm Earnest and Young, in India around 80% urban and 90% rural population spend more than 50 of their monthly income on health services.

Director General Health, of Uttar Pradesh,  Padmakar Singh says the state government will move forward on the agenda given in the new health policy.

Child Specialist Dr. Manoj Singh, of  Lucknow, says that the goals given in the new policy cannot be met as long there is only 1 doctor for 2,000 people. There is an acute shortage of medical personals and the existing ones cannot meet the needs. Medical education is calling for a change for a long time. Some basic medical courses need to be started along with the MBBS to meet the basic needs. The course structure of MBBS is warrants a change.

Dr. Dinesh Lalawani, of Lucknow, says that the government should be appreciated for the initiative. However, the major concern is the basic infrastructure including human resources. The spending in health sector should be increased to 2.5% of the GDP, by 2025. Currently this is at 1.04% which was 1.01% in the year 2012. The government should engage non-government agencies in this sector. An app should be made that is linked with Adhaar card and contains details of the patient suggested Dr. Lalwani.

Ashutosh Kumar Singh, head of Healthy India Initiative says that importance should be given to keeping people healthy rather than giving free medicines. The major health risks are from pollution. If that is effectively tackled, then the major burden on the health services can be done away with.

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