A tunnel of humans it seemed, as I cautiously stepped forward carrying my two year old precocious niece on my shoulder, sobbing to meet her ailing mother who was hospitalised in one of the leading government hospitals. Few patches of concrete flooring, however, visible, rest densely covered by men, women, children, infants and surprisingly, canines. A mix of helplessness and despair conspi-cuously visible on their faces. I could smell the blood and sweat absorbed in the walls and at the same time could listen to the cries of pain that reflected. The subsidised pharmacies were flooded and the apothecary inside clearly over-saturated. Overall – a grim atmosphere to be in.
Unfortunately my brush with private hospitals has been a common affair, but never have I witnessed a leading government hospital before. In such milieu the doctors are lambasted for their work. Inter-alia they are held responsible for the mis-management and poor medical services. However in reality they are mere scapegoats. Even medicos with good acumen are bound to be perturbed and irritated under such stress. Former Minister of State for Health Faggan Singh Kulaste once as a written reply in Lok Sabha said; “As per the information provided by Medical Council of India, there are a total 9,88,922 allopathic doctors registered with the state medical council or MCI as on June 30, 2016. Assuming 80 per cent availability, it is estimated that around 7.91 lakh doctors may be actually available for active service. It gives a doctor population ratio of 1:1668 as per current population estimate of 1.32 billion.” Sounds scary, doesn’t it? With such dearth of doctors, how can we solely hold them responsible for the inefficiency in the medical sector? Rather, I see them im-pressively managing their way through the limited resources; working diligently with the ocean of patients.
Next caveat of worry, I believe is the expenditure of the govt. in the health industry. India spends around only 1.2 % of its GDP on health. This situation clearly puts India in a dichotomy with its reputation of being called as the ‘pharmacy of the world’. Areas where India is doing well-, such as the Jan Aushadi shops, Mission Indradhanush, Swach Bharat Abhiyan- are being overshadowed by the gut very disturbing indicators of Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR), Infant Mortality Rate (IFR), child nutrition etc. However efforts are being made to buoyant the GDP health expenditure figure to at least 2.5% by end of 12th plan and to 3% of GDP by 2022. Definitely a thought to cheer for.
Further Health Insurance adds on to be yet another hiccup among the citizens belonging to the low-income-group. These people are devoid of any health insurance policies. As a cascading effect – even after high health subsidy – the poor’s wallet is effected. This couples with the hardships already on them – in the form of failed harvest, unemployment, etc. Thus, as sociology proves, leading to an increase in the suicidal thoughts, depression , anxiety and ironically increasing the imbalance of their mental state.
Notwithstanding the fact that we host a decent team of engineers, the governmental hospital buildings are in a complete mess. From the food catering wheels to the patient beds, almost everything needs a revamp. Parts of corridors are being used to accommodate extra beds. Hygiene is not being taken care of, with, in some cases, dogs freely roaming. It’s a complete chaos inside.
The current structures, clearly were not built to accommodate the exponentially risen population due to which such kerfuffle is omni present.
However, with the recent shift in the health policy it is expected that Indian healthcare is on a route to betterment.The much needed reforms are on their way. Yet, time immemorial we have witnessed that only legislature in this nation is not sufficient. It has to be synced with flawless execution which needs to be monitored by a dedicated and skilled team against the backdrop of the Medical Council of India.
Frequent inspections of the government hospitals would encourage not only the medical staff to remain on toes but also improve caveats in the helping staff. Keeping a check on the hygiene will also be in sync with the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. A rating system on the basis of few parameters could be given to such hospitals, something similar on the grounds of competitive federalism policies. A complete infrastructural makeover is required with better construction and equipments having cutting edge technology that would aid the doctors, decrease their burden.
Even though we have the GDP expenditure target of 3% deadline as 2022, it should be achieved as soon as possible. As till the time, the liquidity isn’t increased much stalled projects will remain in a dormant state. A dedicated medical institution like AIIMS is required in more states, that not only produces skilled doctors but also provide free treatment to the poor. If the institutes are not being utilised to their full potential another batch for evening students could be initiated that would aid in reducing the gap of doctor to population ratio. Nurses and paramedics are also to be provided with better technological and professional acumen. Excellency centres that takes care of the same could be opened in various regions. This will also fall in line with the skill-india program of our prime minister. Further MCI needs to monitor the medical colleges before providing them with a NOC. There have been cases of allotment fake degrees and institutions providing completion certificates without any practical lessons.
Lastly, i wouldn’t be standing on the same boat as of NITI-Aayog, which suggests increasing the role private institutions would be a key solution in this sector. Government cannot, and should not run away from the obligation of providing and distributing health facilities.
Albeit, we have come a long way in healthcare since 1947 working as a sovereign republic, it has to be understood that to do justice to the tag of ‘rising superpower’ a lot more needs to be done in this sector. This can only be achieved if blooming healthcare is looked as an asset – as a healthy India definitely can bolster the economic conditions and aid in its growth.