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How Can Our Health Care Contribute To The Economic Growth

How Healthcare can help in economic growth

Today, India is confronted with two enemies, the first enemy is Corona virus which is invisible and the second enemy is China, which has entered our country

The second enemy I am sure our military is well equipped to handle, but the first enemy coronavirus has to be fought by us along with our govt.

Though as a country we are fighting hard to combat this enemy, but the last few months have exposed the shortcomings of our health care system.

This crisis has served us as a reminder of the importance of investing in the healthcare sector in our nation.

Realising the gravity of the problem?

They say half the battle is won if you have recognise the problem,

Let’s look at the gravity of the problem in healthcare sector

According to The Lancet, which is one of the world’s leading medical journals,  24 lakh Indians die of treatable conditions every year, which is the worst  among 130 nations.  India alone accounts for 20% of the global disease burden with a high infant mortality rate of 40 deaths per 1,000 live births. More Indians die of poor-quality care than due to a lack of access to healthcare.

Forty-six million children remain stunted in India and 25.5 million are defined as wasted, meaning they do not weigh enough for their height.

Close to 40 percent of Indian children are stunted because of a lack of adequate nutrition. The country risks missing out on the benefits of Demographic Dividend.

Out-of-pocket (OOP) health expenses (Out-of-pocket expenses are the costs of medical care that are not covered by insurance and that you need to pay for on your own, or out of pocket)

drove 55 million Indians–more than the population of South Korea, Spain or Kenya–into poverty in 2011-12, and of these, 38 million (69%) were impoverished by expenditure on medicines alone, according to a new study.

 Even in today’s time 76 percent of Indians do not have health insurance.

7% of Indians fall below the poverty line just because of indebtedness due to health expenses. This figure hasn’t changed in a decade. As a result, about 23% of sick cannot afford healthcare.

The National Health Profile 2018, an annual report released by the Central Bureau of Health Intelligence, elaborates that due to a lack of focus on preventive oncology in India, over 70 percent of cancers are diagnosed only after reaching stage III or IV when treatment is more difficult and less likely to succeed. Consequently, the cure rate is low, the death rate is high, Small wonder, then, that India’s number of cancer-related deaths ranks among the world’s highest. Last year, 784,821 people succumbed to cancer in the country.

In India, the Supreme Court has declared healthcare to be a fundamental right under the constitution.

Unfortunately the fundamental aspect of healthcare — primary healthcare in our country is in shambles.

So the question is How much does India spend on healthcare?

Historically india has done a public spending of just over a percent of GDP on healthcare

  • There is only one primary healthcare center (often manned by one doctor) for more than 51,000 people in the country.
  • India is short of 50,00,000 doctors to fulfill the WHO norm of a 1:1000 doctor-population ratio.
  • The total per capita government spending on healthcare has nearly doubled from ₹1,008 per person in FY15 to ₹1,944 in FY20, but is still low.
  • The total expenditure by the Centre and states for FY20 was ₹2.6 trillion, or 1.29% of GDP, including establishment expenditure comprising salaries, gross budgetary support to various institutions and hospitals and transfers to states under centrally sponsored schemes such as Ayushman Bharat.               
Where does India figure vis-à-vis others?

India’s total healthcare spending (out-of-pocket and public), at 3.6% of GDP, as per OECD, is way lower than that of other countries.

The average for OECD countries in 2018 was 8.8% of GDP. Developed nations—the US (16.9%), Germany (11.2%), France (11.2%) and Japan (10.9%)—spend even more.

India spends the least among BRICS countries: Brazil spends the most (9.2%), followed by South Africa (8.1%), Russia (5.3%), China (5%).

India has traditionally spent less on health. In the First Five-Year Plan, 3.4% of the total plan investment was for health outlays. This rose to 6.5% by the Eleventh Five-Year Plan. In FY20, the per capita capital expenditure was less than ₹200 per person, with 12 states spending under 1% of GSDP (Gross State Domestic Product) on healthcare.

It is important that India invests in the healthcare

IMF has said in its annual Article IV reports that India can boost its human capital’s productivity by investing in education and healthcare.

 In 2018, it identified poor public health as the 12th most important hurdle for ease of doing business, ahead of crime, tax regulations and policy instability.

Health and working conditions are a key recommendation in its suggestions for labour market reforms.

The health sector creates both high- and low-skill jobs and can be used for pump-priming the service and manufacturing sectors.

According to a 2015 study by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the country will need 3.5 million beds, 3 million doctors, and 6 million nurses by 2035. This means a potential investment of nearly $245 billion in the traditional healthcare delivery infrastructure over the next two decades.

For this, the govt needs to funnell funds into public health sector and remove policy bottlenecks so that the sector becomes the engine of GDP growth.

Health is real wealth

“It is Health that is real Wealth and not pieces of gold and silver”, MK Gandhi had once said.

Mahatma Gandhi believed that nothing is more valuable than good health, and passed this advice to all the future generations. So, make health, not wealth, your priority.

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