The Prevailing Shortcomings of Rural Healthcare Sector

Posted on March 3, 2012 in Health & Life

By Priyata Khushbu:

India is a populous nation where a majority of the population continue to reside in the villages. The ever increasing population has also intensified the problems being faced by the government in providing equal health benefits to everybody. The greatest challenge is being encountered in terms of rural healthcare where several issues are hindering the reach of medical benefits to many.

India has earned 2nd rank in the world after Bangladesh with 47% of malnutritioned children. UN estimates that 2.1 million children die every year before reaching the age of five. According to the recent reports by the National Rural Health Mission, nearly 8% Primary Health Clinics do not have doctors whereas 39% are running without lab technician and 17.7% without a pharmacist. These are some astonishing insights into the healthcare scenario of our country.

Rural India does not have access to basic medical facilities and women and children are constantly victimised by this core issue. The absence of experienced doctors in the rural areas is the primary reason behind the death of women during childbirth. It is sad to know that 75% of the health infrastructure is concentrated in the urban areas. Private players dominate the health sector which has made adequate use of science, technology and research to fight against health problems and diseases. While this has benefited the urban population which is equipped to incur such heavy medical expenditure, rural population is still seeking help from the government. Governments’ spending on healthcare is disappointing and a lot has to be done to solve this problem.

It is mandatory to strictly scrutinise the working of the Primary Health Clinics in the rural areas. It is unfortunate to know that the aspiring doctors head to the cities to earn money and neglect the villages which are languishing for want of proper medical facilities. The government can improve the sorry state of affairs by giving special incentives to the doctors serving the rural population. The condition can also be improved by making it mandatory for the medical students to serve in the villages during the course of their study akin to law students who have to provide free legal aid to the poor villagers as part of their internship.

The private players which dominate the health sector should also look beyond its profit making activity and come forward to participate in community welfare activities. Government in close association with the private players should seek ways to improve the health scenario of the nation because poor health conditions will hinder the holistic development of the nation.

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You should also look at the state of health-education. People who do not qualify in the entrance examinations pay exorbitant amounts of money to get a seat in the medical college. After that they spend 6-8 years on an average, studying. Apart from that examiners get offers of bribes or political pressure to give passing marks to these candidates. After students like this take the Hippocrates Oath, how do you think would they make their money back? Do you think these villagers would help the ROI(Return on Investment) in any manner? After all medical-education is a huge-INVESTMENT.

Did you miss the sarcasm? Either way, I’ll tell you this – I have seen these things happen, from very close-quarters. This does make me think twice before I go to any doctor who passed out recently.

Puneet Sharma

I appreciate your concern and the suggestions which to me are very workable. While the urban cities are being infested by the likes of Apollo, Fortis and Max Healthcare, people in rural areas have to be content or subjected to surgeries performed in dim lights without proper equipment and staff. That certainly is a huge gap and it needs to be filled.
Can we justify the situation stating that Doctors had to pay a fortune to get into that profession? Well, engineering colleges aren’t cheap either, but don’t we have roads and electricity in a lot of villages where healthcare lies like an orphan, to be taken care of.
Financial (especially insurance) sector has fixed a minimum amount of business that should be done by each private player in rural area and this amount increases every year.
I think similar regulations should be brought about in healthcare as well for private players who are eyeing the “BIG PIE”

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