DMPQ-Suggest healthcare measures for India’s health system in the wake of current pandemic.

. The Covid-19 pandemic reiterates the importance of Public Health systems. The private health sector which accounts for 70% of healthcare services in India, is playing only a supporting role. There is a need to address the constraints and revamp of the public health system in India which would not only enable improved handling of Covid-19, but would also have widespread positive impacts extending much beyond the Covid-19 situation.

Covid 19 pandemic and Significance of Public Health Care

  • For Indian population, the availability of functional public health systems is literally a question of life and death.
  • A robust government health-care service is translated into a more effective outreach, timely testing, early case detection and more rational treatment for Covid patients. This is evident by comparing two States— Maharashtra and Kerala.
  • Their per capita gross State domestic product (GSDP) is similar. However, their Covid-19 case fatality rates are hugely different — this being 0.48% for Kerala and 2.04% for Maharashtra.
  • A major reason for such critical divergence is likely to be the huge differences in the effectiveness of public health systems.
  • Despite Maharashtra having a large private healthcare sector, its weak public health system has proved to be a critical deficiency.

Issues With Current Healthcare System

Lack of Primary Healthcare Services: The existing public primary health care model in the country is limited in scope.  Even where there is a well-functioning public primary health centre, only services related to pregnancy care, limited childcare and certain services related to national health programmes are provided.

Supply-Side Deficiencies: Poor health management skills and lack of appropriate training and supportive supervision for health workers prevent delivery of the desired quality of health services.

Inadequate Funding: Expenditure on public health funding has been consistently low in India (approximately 1.3% of GDP). As per OECD, India’s total out-of-pocket expenditure is around 2.3 % of GDP.

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