October 29, 2020

COVID 19: A Reminder for India to increase the Public health spending

India’s health sector has been one of the most neglected sectors with the total spending of only 3.6% of GDP as per OECD, which is way behind other world economies and the global average of 8.8%. The health infrastructure is totally miserable with the lesser number of hospital beds, healthcare workers and an enormous amount of patients who in the worst case scenario had to share beds or wait for days in the extreme illness for doctors to check. Although there has been a commendable improvement in certain aspects  of the public health in the past years: life expectancy has increased, fall in the infant and under 5 mortality rate, the communicable diseases are still the biggest problem in the health sector. Even before the spread of the Covid-19, the deaths from communicable diseases(majorly respiratory)were much higher in India than the global averages. 

India is more vulnerable to corona virus than the other world nations including China and Italy, who were amongst the first and most affected. One of the reasons for this is the lack of preparedness. According to the global health security index 2019, India ranked 57 out of 195 countries in terms of pandemic preparedness. The other major reason is the lack of resources, as we discussed above. lack of resources comprise of: 

  • lack of proper health infrastructure- beds, hospitals and medical equipment and in the worst case doctors 
  • Lack of proper health data
  • Lack of investment in research and training in the field of health
source : livemint

it is often said that- Prevention is better than cure but here in India we focus more on cures and treatments rather than prevention. As per the figures we spend only 7% on the preventive health care and a big 80% on the cures and treatment. A little improvement and investment in the preventive health care facilities can lead to double or much more higher return in the future, as experimented by Abhijit Banerjee in his book “poor economics”.

India has long neglected the public health and now is the time to improve the otherwise retarded health sector. Covid 19 is the prove that future is definitely uncertain and that health is indeed more important than all of the worlds money. COVID-19 is only one of many epidemics we are likely to see in the coming decades and there is an urgent need to increase the public health care spending by investing in more hospitals, building beds, infrastructure and medical equipments. covid 19 has indeed changed the way we look out health and now we surely believe health of every person: rich or poor matters. the country won’t progress if we neglect the health of public and now after corona virus, there is hope that the health structure and pandemic preparedness will be given an utmost importance.

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