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South Beats North in Big Hospital War

Hyderabad is often referred to as The City of Pearls and The City of Nizams. Here’s another feather to its cap — The City of Big Hospitals. The Telangana capital is home to 150 private hospitals with 100 beds and above.  Cities like Delhi with 78 and Mumbai with 77 major hospitals have a long way to go before catching up with the southern city. According to the latest hospital mapping of India done by the Association of Healthcare Providers of India (AHPI), a body of private hospitals in the country, among all the states, Maharashtra has the maximum density of big hospitals — with 178 hospitals that have 100 or more beds. The state is closely followed by Tamil Nadu (177). States such as Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh — which are known to have poor health infrastructure despite their large population — have the lowest number of big hospitals. Bihar, in particular, with a population of nearly 10 crore, has only 20 big hospitals. In comparison, a much smaller state like Kerala has 132 big hospitals. The situation is not rosy in the northeast too, where there are just 28 big hospitals in all, with only Assam reaching a double-digit figure (10).

“The mapping is a crucial exercise as it highlights the healthcare infrastructure disparities in various regions of the country,” said Girdhar J Gyani, director general, AHPI. “This map should be taken into consideration by the Center which should ensure that big centers of excellence come up in states with large population but unmet healthcare needs.” Officials in the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare conceded that while private sector in India is crucial to fulfill its target of universal health coverage, private healthcare centers have been largely concentrated to certain cities and states. “The map explains the high number of patients at tertiary care centers like AIIMS, Delhi, from states such as Bihar and UP,” a senior official said. Officials in the National Health Agency (NHA) — constituted this year to implement the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) aimed at taking care of hospitalization needs of about 50 crore Indians — conceded that the chances of success of the scheme was higher in states with high number of big private hospitals.

Talking to this newspaper a few weeks ago, Indu Bhushan, NHA CEO, had said that poor healthcare infrastructure and lack of administrative capacity were the main reasons why states like Bihar were lagging behind in implementing the scheme successfully. Of about 28 states and Union Territories where PMJAY has been rolled out, Bihar has fared the worst so far. Sources in Health Ministry said the fact that healthcare infrastructure in large parts of the country is not adequate is well-realized — India has one hospital bed for 879 people, far below the world average of 30 hospitals per 10,000 people. Officials said it was difficult for the government to cater to healthcare needs of the entire population and that the private sector could play a crucial role in strengthening health infrastructure in Tier II and Tier II cities too. Therefore, states were recently advised to adopt private-sector friendly policies.  In an advisory, the Center had asked the states to ensure easy and fast availability of land for the opening of hospitals and facilitate various clearances and permissions under various statutory provisions with specified timelines. – New Indian Express