The recently released NITI Ayog’s report on health index does not paint a happy picture for Gujarat. The state, which usually banks on high development, is on a detrimental change with respect to health parameters.
According to the report titled ‘Healthy States, Progressive India’ Gujarat is placed as the third least improved state amongst the larger states. At 19th position, Gujarat has only fared better than Haryana and Kerala. The state’s overall performance declined from the base year 2014-15 to the reference year 2015-16. Though the state has slipped just one rank, the incremental change is negative.
The most worrisome take away from the report is the alarming drop in the sex ratio at birth which has declined from 907 to 854 girls per 1000 boys. This decline, at a rate of 5.8%, is the worst amongst all the states. According to the National Family and Health Survey, sex ratio of the total population, as well as well as sex ratio at birth in the last five years, is far better in rural areas than in urban areas of Gujarat. Sex ratio for the total population was 984 for rural Gujarat as compared to 907 for the year 2015-16. Similarly the sex ratio at birth for children born in the last five years was 960 or rural Gujarat as compared to 835 for urban, for the year 2015-16.
Despite the slumping health conditions in the state, the budgetary allocation for health over the last three fiscal years has seen a decline too. ₹8,800 crore was proposed for Health and Family Welfare in the budget for the year 2017-18 of the total budget of ₹1,72,179.24 crore. This was 5.11% of the total proposed budget which has dropped from 5.40% of budget allocation in the year 2016-17 and 5.59% in 2015-16.
With the next budget for the state slated to be announced in February, the allocation for health, keeping in the mind the grim health conditions in the state, will be something to look out for.
Many other surveys and reports which were recently released only add to the existing appalling health conditions of Gujarat. While overall, the state saw an increase in the number of sub-centres, which is the most peripheral and first contact point between the primary and health care system and the community, the manpower still remains short.
23.11% of health worker’s posts are lying vacant in the rural areas with a total shortfall of 6,138 workers. Of the 8,801 functioning sub-centres in the state, 1,123 are without male and female health workers. There is a vacancy of 45.05% doctors at primary health centres in rural areas with 16% shortfall.
Of the 1,314 public health centres in the rural areas, 107 are without any doctor and 390 are without the presence of female doctors. Of the 1,288 required specialists in Gujarat, the state falls short of 1,140 specialists. Another report by the Rural Health Statistics 2016-17 states that Gujarat is 93.7% short of specialists.