The recently conducted Global Burden Of Disease Study reinforced once again the fact that India is still has a lot of catching up to do with its neighbours in terms of health care. The study published in a medical journal, The Lancet, ranks India at a lowly 145th place out of 195 countries in terms of healthcare access and quality (HAQ).
India, which has jumped nine places from last year’s 154th position, still lags behind countries like Sri Lanka (71), Bangladesh (133) and Bhutan (134) in terms of HAQ.
To add to the problem, the study has pointed out the widespread internal disparity in terms of HAQ in India, with a maximum gap of 30.8 (up from 23.4 in 1990).
“Although India’s improvements on the (health care access and quality) HAQ index hastened from 2000 to 2016, the gap between the country’s highest and lowest scores widened (23·4-point difference in 1990, and 30·8-point difference in 2016),” the stated the study.
The study also reported that India’s performance in tackling diseases like tuberculosis, rheumatic heart diseases, Ischaemic heart diseases, stroke, testicular cancer, colon cancer and chronic kidney disease among others were subpar.
To arrive at definitive conclusion, the study took into consideration 32 causes of deaths which can be otherwise prevented by effective medical attention.
Each of the 195 assessed countries were given a score between 0 to 100. The highest scorers were Iceland (97.1), Norway (96.6), Netherlands (96.1), Luxembourg (96.0), and Finland and Australia (95.9 each).
This was also the first time when the study conducted research across regions within seven countries: Brazil, China, England, India, Japan, Mexico, and the US.
“These results emphasise the urgent need to improve both access to and quality of health care across service areas and for all populations; otherwise, health systems could face widening gaps between the health services they provide and the disease burden experienced by local communities,” said the study.
Understanding the reasons behind India’s dismal ranking
One of the major problems with regard to the quality of healthcare in India has been low public spending in the sector. India presently spends a little over 1% of its GDP on public healthcare.
This year’s budget also saw the decline in budget allocation for National Health Mission– India’s largest programme for primary health care by 2.1 percent.
Each year, nearly one million Indians die due to inadequate health care facilities and close to 700 million citizens have no access to specialist care. Additionally, at present, almost 80 percent of the Rs 3 lakh crore healthcare investment is made by the private sector, reported Firstpost.
The Logical Indian Take
The government of India recently adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which is a set of 17 goals to transform our world and “leave no one behind”. Most of the 17 goals are intricately linked with health and are not mutually exclusive. In the recent times, schemes like National Health Protection Scheme and India’s National Health Policy 2017 which seeks to raise public health expenditure to 2.5 percent of the GDP by 2025 are aimed at boosting healthcare in the country. Although India’s ranking has improved marginally, we still have a long way to go.