Our nation is going through a difficult time as India is fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic, doctors and health workers are front liners and playing a role of soldiers in this war but even soldiers can not win a war without good back support and today doctors & health workers are facing this kind of problems.
India GDP growth rate for 2019-2020 has come down from 5% to 4.1% and after COVID-19 pandemic it may come to 1.1%, according to Center for Monitoring Indian Economy unemployment rate on 16th May 2020 were around 24%.
Every sector is struggling but healthcare sector needs much more than other sectors, current healthcare delivery system is fragile; for instance, Bihar can not handle come back of novel coronavirus if migrant workers carry the virus with themselves, that’s why Bihar government is not bringing back their migrant workers. Around 1.5% of GDP has been spent on healthcare sector over a decade and this less spending results as poor quality of healthcare delivery, the limited reach of government hospitals and insufficient healthcare services.
India is one of that country which is spending a large percentage of GDP to revive its economy, the finance ministry announced that 10% of GDP will use in “Atmnirbhar Bharat Abhiyan” to revive the economy but in part 1 of 20 lakh crore rs package only 15000 crore rs will go for emergency health response package. Some questions are also raising on Atmnirbhar package; according to report of The Hindu long term structural shift of companies from China due to a certain situation is going on but they are preferring to relocate manufacturing in Association of Southeast Asian Nations(ASEAN) region and not in India, so India has only one way and that has become self-dependent.
Now the question is how we are dealing with COVID-19 in such a good manner with the staggering healthcare system?, so all this could be possible with agility and speed in the ordering of PPE, ventilators and other necessary items, but how is it possible to spend so much; this all can possible by the resources allocated for other health programs like childcare fund. Many states are not ready to face the second wave of COVID-19, for dealing with second wave states have to spend 70% more than current expenditures.
COVID-19 exposed a bitter truth about the Indian healthcare system that private sector has an account of 93% of all hospital, 64% of all hospitals bed and 80-85% of all doctors staff and private hospitals and doctors are not working on COVID-19 in many states, it means we have very less healthcare infrastructure.
According to the report of Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development OECD in April 2020 Indian government were spending only 3.6% of total GDP on the healthcare sector, the average healthcare spending of OECD countries in 2018 was 8.8% of their GDP and if we took developed nations as examples- the US spends 16.9% of its GDP, Germany spends 11.2% of its GDP and France spends 11% of its GDP. Even India spends the least among BRICS countries: Brazil spends 9.2% of GDP, South Africa spends 8.1% of GDP, Russia spends 5.3% of GDP and China spends 5% of its GDP.
Less healthcare expenditure can be defined as an Indian government tradition as in first five-year plan 3.4% of total investment was for health outlays and in eleventh five years plan it rose by 3.1% and reached to 6.5% of total investment. The government should give more attention towards healthcare sector even countries which are poorer than India is doing well on this sector, for instance: according to the global burden of diseases study Bhutan and Bangladesh are doing better than India. If we do a comparative study of India and South Africa then we can see that India was rank at 153th in 1990 on healthcare sector whereas South Africa was rank at 108th in 1990 and in 2016 India took a jump and reached to 145th rank but South Africa took a great jump and reached to 48th rank in 2016, the difference is easily catchable and the difference is not here because of GDP even in 2018 India GDP was $2.8 trillion whereas South Africa GDP was only $370.9 billion. So we don’t have a problem with money, we have a problem of attention towards the healthcare system.
official Writer - Kartik Sharma