Bengaluru: As healthcare prices shoot up and the realms of health concerns broaden, healthy living is becoming a luxury. Affordable healthcare continues to be a challenge across the city, state and country. According to the National Health Profile Survey (NHPS-4), released in December 2017, only 15% households in the city are covered under any health scheme or health insurance, despite the fact that there are around 63 million people pushed into poverty every year because of high healthcare costs across the country. Government schemes, increased budgets and initiatives have failed to bring relief to the people.
The World Health Day was celebrated on Saturday and the theme for the 70th anniversary was ‘Universal Health Coverage: Everyone and Everywhere’, aiming to enhance global health awareness and expanding the reach of efficient healthcare.
Asked why healthcare is going beyond the reach of the common man, Dr Sathish S., Additional Director, Neurosurgery Fortis Hospital, told Deccan Chronicle, “As the second most populous country in the world with 1.3 billion-plus people, successive governments have failed to provide even basic healthcare to all and our public spending on healthcare is way below other developing countries.”
NHPS-4 also highlihts the problem of is stalking the city with only 14% of children receiving adequate diet and 40% of men and women within the bracket of low BMI (Body Mass Index) and obesity. The survey, carried out by the World Health Organisation, points out that the country has the highest infant mortality rates along with other health concerns.
“Realising the mammoth gap between the need and availability of healthcare, the central government recently announced an ambitious scheme to cover nearly 40 crore population under a universal health insurance scheme to empower those in the lowest socioeconomic strata,” Dr Sathish said. The National Health Protection Scheme is expected to cover families with annual health insurance coverage of Rs 500,000 per family. However, experts and analysts have questioned the viability of this scheme on multiple grounds.
Dr Manojith, Surgeon, Global Hospitals, said, “The government should ensure that more citizens are brought under the healthcare coverage schemes that allow them to avail of more benefits from the government. Government hospital facilities should be made qualitative and private facilities more affordable.”
The average cost of hospitalisation in a private facility is around Rs 20,000, while in a government hospital, it is around Rs 9,000. Last year, as many as 15% of poorer households sold assets or took costly loans to pay for hospitalisation, as reported by IndiaSpend.
“The city needs more institutes like Jayadeva and Kidwai Memorial at the primary and secondary care level, so that basic healthcare needs of the people are met. There are several effective models already in practice in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, “said Dr Manish Mattoo, Zonal Director, Fortis Hospitals.
According to WaterAid report, India also has the maximum people without clean water availability with nearly 163.1 million people suffering due to lack of clean water close to their homes, which in turn affects their health. “Providing clean water, sanitation and education are among the most important aspects required to improve the health status throughout the country and it’s high time we address these issues effectively,” said Dr Subramanian Swaminathan, Gleneagales GlobalHospital. He highlighted how prevention is better than diagnosing the problem for better health.