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Healthcare failure pushes 6.5 crore Indians into poverty each year

Dr Jayaprakash Narayan, retired bureaucrat, author of the National Health Mission, and founder of the Loksatta Party, highlighted the alarming impact of health care failures, which are forcing nearly 6.5 crore people into poverty each year.

Speaking at a round table discussion on Vision 2030 for ensuring quality and affordable health care for all in Telangana, organized by FTCCI (The Federation of Telangana Chambers of Commerce and Industry) on Tuesday, Dr Narayan commended the initiative taken by an industrial association in drafting a vision document for the subject.

He emphasized that the rising costs of health care are driving a significant number of people into poverty, stating that it is a shame to witness such an outcome.

Dr Narayan revealed that 58 per cent of health care expenditure in India is incurred through out-of-pocket costs, with 90 per cent of Indians working in the unorganized sector lacking access to health insurance.

He criticized the notion that private insurance is the ultimate solution for health care, describing it as a weak and nonsensical argument.

Dr Narayan expressed concern over the dire state of family health care in the country and pointed out the inefficiencies in the current system.

Comparing it to the United States, where one-third of GDP is spent on health care with unsatisfactory outcomes, he stressed the need for optimal utilization of resources.

He cited examples of overcrowding at major hospitals in India, such as Osmania Hospital, Gandhi Hospital, and AIIMS in Delhi, where thousands of patients flock daily, while the world’s best tertiary medical care facilities attend to a fraction of that number.

Another issue he highlighted was the shortage of trained healthcare professionals in India. With only 3.2 million deployed in the country compared to 6.9 million in the USA, Dr Narayan advocated for a significant increase to improve access to health care.

He also pointed out the need for higher investments in the health care sector, noting that India spends only 1.01 per cent of GSDP (Gross State Domestic Product) and Telangana less than 1 per cent, which is significantly lower compared to other major economies.

Dr Narayan praised the success of Hyderabad in medical procedures like bypass surgeries and replacements, contributing to the city’s emergence as a global hub for medical tourism.

He mentioned that nearly one million overseas individuals are projected to spend USD13.8 billion this year for treatments in India, and this figure is expected to reach USD100 billion in the near future.

Further, Dr Narayan emphasized the importance of focusing on family health care, placing patients at the centre, and improving the credibility and skill level of government medical colleges.

He urged the allocation of more resources to basic health care, drawing attention to the strong primary health care system in Sri Lanka, which has resulted in higher life expectancy compared to India.

Dr GVS Murthy, Director of the Indian Institute of Public Health (IIPH), outlined the fundamental areas of the vision document, using the acronym APPS: Affordability, Accessibility, Acceptability, Accountability, Audibility, Adaptability, Preparedness of Healthcare Systems, Prevention, Partnerships, Patient-Centered Care, Population-based, Primary Care, Participatory, and Point of Care Diagnostics. United News of India

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