Another Parliament election is coming. As everyone is discussing the hate speeches,vote for note scams,dissolving alliances and about the umpteen number of leaders running for the Prime Minister’s post,let us not forget the real issues facing the Indian electorate. Today with the help of this article in The Frontline let me make you aware of the issues in the health sector.
What is the state of the nation’s health?
The findings of the third National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3), a household survey carried out during 2005-06, should put the political class to shame. The country was then witnessing an 8-9 per cent economic growth and the government may think that India is a world power in the making, but these findings tell the real story of where all that growth is headed.
Let me highlight some of the points in this article.
1. Infant and Child mortality rates although falling slowly is unacceptably high.Our mortality rates corresponds to the average of least developed countries.
2.Immunisation coverage is only 44% and is actually falling in some areas
3.Pulse Polio Programme is still not a success and is adversely affecting the Universal Immunisation Programme
4.Closure of vaccine making public sector Companies on flimsy grounds resulted in severe vaccine shortage.
5.Under nutrition in Children in rural areas is much worse than in sub saharan Africa.
6.Percentage of anemic women[pregnant or non pregnant,which is more than fifty percentage] actually showed an increase from 1998 to 2005
7.More than half of child births take place with out a qualified health worker in attendance.
8.More than 600000 children die due to diarrhoea every year,an easily preventable death.
9.There is a short fall of trained health care personals in Health Centres by 20 to 40%.
10.India has the most privatised health care system in the World with every one paying for the health care from their pocket.60 to 70% of patients go to private hospitals.Only about 5 % have insurance.
11. Public health expenditure as a proportion of total health expenditure is lowest in India.
These are only few of the problem areas.There are many more areas especially the ever increasing burden of non-communicable diseases like Diabetes,Heart Attacks,Stroke,Chronic lung disease,Chronic Kidney diseases etc.
Access to quality health care is a basic human right and should be viewed as a fundamental right of every citizen. A healthy nation is a prerequisite for social and economic development. Mere economic growth measured in gross financial terms, as is evident, does not ensure that. To make the public health care system work requires determined political leadership, adequate investment and appropriate policy instruments rooted in ground realities.
Therefore, in the run-up to the general election, from the perspective of the electorate, people’s health should be accorded top priority along with education and food security. Public health must be brought to the top of the political agenda, which, unfortunately, has not been in evidence in the past 60 years of independence.