This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Gaurav Gupta. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Does India’s Health System Meet The 21st Century Requirements?

More from Gaurav Gupta

In the past, the world has witnessed various health crises, with the bubonic plague and the Spanish flu being the most fatal amongst them. These crises killed an uncountable number of humans.

In the 21st century, we have faced the worst health crisis yet again and are trying hard to cope with it. Yes, I am referring to the coronavirus pandemic that has now developed some deadly variants as well, with Omicron being the latest detected one. We have already seen how the Delta variant in the second wave created havoc in our lives.

In this article, I’ll talk about health and its aspects, the current status of the health infrastructure in India, and various initiatives needed to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Youth Ki Awaaz (@youthkiawaaz)


India has a rich history in healthcare and medicines. Traditional medicine systems of India, like the Ayurveda, is known to the entire world. Atharvaveda contains a cure for 99 diseases. The Charak Samhita, written by Charaka, contains knowledge of the Ayurveda. Similarly, Sushruta Samhita mentions surgical instruments, plastic surgery and rhinoplasty.

Now, coming to the modern health infrastructure, it finds a resemblance to ancient medical knowledge. India, on one hand, is leading in medical research, vaccine production, pharma industry, and on the other hand, it has high rates of infant mortality. There is a lack of health infrastructure and many children in India suffer from anaemia, bone deformation and stunted growth.

The recent pandemic has highlighted the importance of a strong, inclusive and resilient healthcare system that India needs to meet according to the 21st-century requirements.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as physical, mental and social well-being, and not just the absence of illness. So, health is a multidimensional concept. It includes freedom from both communicable and non-communicable diseases, freedom from mental or psychological stress, and the ability to constructively engage with people and society.

India in the 21st century faces a dual problem. We are yet to declare ourselves free from diseases such as malaria or tuberculosis. HIV, diabetes and various types of cancer are common. Another issue is that of malnutrition. According to the latest Global Hunger Index report, India ranks 101 with a score of 27.5. This is quite concerning. Millions of children are stunted and wasted, putting the future of India at risk.

man wearing a mask
The recent pandemic has only added salt to the wound, portraying a dismal picture of our health system.

The recent pandemic has only added salt to the wound, portraying a dismal picture of our health system. According to research, the doctor-population ratio in India is 1:1457 against the WHO recommendation of 1:1000. Severe scarcity of hospital beds, ventilators and oxygen cylinders is also concerning to our health situation.

The globalised world, moreover, has made easy the spread of infections caused by viruses and bacteria.

India, since post-Independence, has tried to focus on public health and infrastructure. Article 47 of the Indian Constitution states the provision related to improvement in public health and raising the level of nutrition. Various top medical institutions like AIIMS were opened in megacities through subsequent five-year plans.

In recent times, the National Health Policy, which tries to meet the needs of the demands of the 21st century, was adopted. Also, various schemes including the Ayushman Bharat, POSHAN Abhiyaan, Jan Arogya Yojana etc. try to bring quality healthcare for all. Recently, the health card scheme was launched to create electronic medical records for each Indian.

Another silver lining is Mission Indradhanush. India produced many Covid vaccines, enough to help needy countries like Africa, Afghanistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, etc. under a humanitarian initiative undertaken by the Indian Government called Vaccine Maitri.

Vaccine bottle
Image credit: Feature China/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Here is what more can be done in order to make India’s health infrastructure more resilient, self-dependent and inclusive.

  • For emerging technologies like gene therapy and telemedicine, India needs to invest more in research and development. Collaboration can be done along with like-minded countries and institutions like the WHO.
  • We need to shift to preventive and promotive healthcare. The traditional medicinal systems can also be emphasised. Also, we can promote universal healthcare and through the PPP model. We can build hospitals and related infrastructure in every town located remotely.
  • The use of data and Artificial Intelligence needs to become a reality in order to detect and predict diseases.
  • A people-centric policy should be made that is more inclusive, easily available, and affordable.
  • Community participation in healthcare should be emphasised.

As the saying goes, “He who has health, has hope; and he who has hope has everything”.

So, India needs to devote more proportion of its expenditure and investment on health and education, as only educated and healthy minds can make intelligent choices, thus making India play a positive role in making the 21st century as Asia’s century led by Indians.

You must be to comment.

More from Gaurav Gupta

Similar Posts

By Sreenandan Shashidharan

By Shadman Shaidai

By Kriti Rathore

    If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at actnow@youthkiawaaz.com

      If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at actnow@youthkiawaaz.com

        If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at actnow@youthkiawaaz.com

        Wondering what to write about?

        Here are some topics to get you started

        Share your details to download the report.









        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        Share your details to download the report.









        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

        Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

        Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

        The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

        Read more about his campaign.

        Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

        Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

        Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

        Read more about her campaign.

        MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

        With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

        Read more about her campaign. 

        A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

        As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

        Find out more about the campaign here.

        A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

        She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

        Read more about the campaign here.

        A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

        The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

        Read more about the campaign here.

        A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

        As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

        Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

        Find out more about her campaign here.

        Share your details to download the report.









        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

        A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

        Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

        A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
        biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

        Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
        campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

        Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below