Healthcare is an extremely important aspect of our lives. We should be able to access quality healthcare when we need it. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. There are many challenges associated with healthcare in India.
With the growing population, the demand for healthcare services is also increasing. However, there are several healthcare challenges facing by and in India.
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How India can Rise to the Healthcare Challenges?
Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have, and India has all it takes to emerge as a major healthcare provider to the world. However, the need for the right policies and stronger execution of these policies on the ground. Some key points for governments and leaders to focus on if they are to avoid a healthcare catastrophe. For instance, all retail medical stores across India should have 40 per cent stock of generic medicines so that cheap medicines can be made available. Schemes like Jan Aushadhi should penetrate to the masses, providing generic drugs at affordable prices.
Countries are currently grappling with issues like rising health care costs, changing patient demographics, developing consumer expectations and complex health and technology ecosystems. Health care stakeholders need to invest in innovative care delivery models, data inter-operability, advanced digital technologies, and alternative employment models to prepare for uncertainties like pandemics and build a smart health ecosystem.
India has all it takes to emerge as a major healthcare provider in the world. India can reduce the cost of healthcare by increasing the number of healthcare professionals, such as doctors, nurses, technicians, and administrators. The prohibitive cost of healthcare services, lack of specialists, low penetration of medical insurance, and the high cost of medical education are issues that need to be transformed innovatively.
There are many positives in India’s favour. Indians are born healers. This is also visible in the COVID recovery cases in India. Our younger generation is very studious and hardworking. We have 542 medical colleges in India. We produce the largest number of doctors, nurses, and medical technicians and have a very mature pharmaceutical industry. India will become the first country in the world to dissociate healthcare from affluence.
However, we need the right policies and stronger execution of these policies on the ground. India’s policymakers realise it is not just about healthcare, but it is about creating fair growth across the entire society under the “Sab Ka Saath, Sab Ka Vikas” scheme.
India’s total healthcare spending is at 3.6 percent of GDP, as per OECD, way lower than the average of 8.8 percent of GDP in 2018.
The passage of various healthcare bills in the Parliament in India, including the Mental Health Care Bill, certainly shows a significant and positive shift in India’s approach towards mental healthcare but it also makes us “question the debilitating condition of the healthcare sector.” There should be an increase in healthcare expenditure as India accounts for less than one percent of the world’s healthcare expenditure. All retail medical stores across India should have 40 per cent stock of generic medicines so that cheap medicines can be made available. Schemes like Jan Aushadhi should penetrate to the masses, providing generic drugs at affordable prices.
The main reason for China’s explosive growth can be attributed to its higher investment in health and education. India could follow successful models across the world, especially from countries like the UK and Cuba, which focus more on sanitation, health and preventive rather than curative aspects.
Health care systems need to work toward a future in which the collective focus shifts away from treatment, to prevention and early intervention. With global health care spending expected to rise at a CAGR of five per cent between 2019 to 2023, it will probably present many opportunities for the sector.
How to Avoid a Healthcare Crisis?
There are, however, some key points for governments and leaders to focus on if they are to avoid a healthcare crisis.
- Investment–Although many governments have increased central investment in healthcare, this needs to be continued to ensure systems and medical staff are ready for further outbreaks of COVID-19, or other future problems that may arise even after the vaccine comes out in the market.
- Wage policies–Our biggest concern is that not enough has been done yet to improve the wages and working conditions that these workers really deserve in countries like India. Despite the investment, not enough is being done to remunerate doctors and medical staff for their work, especially with the increased workload during the pandemic.
- Working conditions–The analysis of the healthcare sector cannot simply focus on “salary paid”, we must look at the conditions of our healthcare workers, such as the hours people are asked to work, also need to be considered. This will actually make the jobs more attractive.
- Education and training – We need to consider what type of education and training needs to go with these healthcare workers (or warriors, as we call them), to ensure that they are getting into the best possible jobs that they can find.
- Contractual issues–Another issue connected to pay is the type of contract on which much key staff are employed. Many of the health workers are on short-term, precarious contracts. Hence, we need to look at improving the coverage of regular contracts for these workers, who are then given the right benefits.
- As we at healthcare nt sickcare spent quite some time in healthcare sector now, we feel it is about the ability to recruit and keep staff in various NHS [National Health Service] scheme and government hospitals that will ensure that we can do the job we are expected to do.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is being felt across industries, causing irreversible changes to come. It has firmly established the need for active action and the establishment of a robust, collaborative, scalable, and agile digital healthcare infrastructure.
With healthcare spending projected to grow faster than the economy, increasing from 17.8 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2017 to 21.4 percent of GDP in 2027, there is still a tremendous scope for India to rise to the healthcare challenge.
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National Digital Health Mission
On India’s 74th Independence Day, the Honourable Prime Minister announced a significant healthcare initiative for India. He unveiled the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM), which is based on the National Digital Health Blueprint (NDHB) prepared by the Ministry of Health Family Welfare (MoHFW) panel to create a framework for the National Health Stack (NHS) proposed in 2018 by the National Institution for Transformation of India (NITI) Aayog.
The NHS is essentially a set of core building blocks to be ‘built as a common public good’ that helps avoid duplication of efforts and achieves convergence among the IT systems of the diverse stakeholders such as the Governments, the payers, the providers, and the citizens. The NDHM will significantly improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and transparency of health service delivery and will be a major step towards the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 3.8 of Universal Health Coverage, including financial risk protection. The mission aims to develop the backbone necessary to support the integrated digital health infrastructure of the country. It will bridge the existing gap amongst different stakeholders of the healthcare ecosystem through digital highways.
India is on a journey to modernize the delivery and consumption of healthcare services in the country. While the journey to a fully automated and digitized healthcare system is complex, and implementation needs to be meticulous, initiatives like Ayushman Bharat and NDHM are steps in the right direction.
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Reference: Express Healthcare
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