Universal Healthcare: Everything You Should Know About It

  • Dec 26 , 2017

Do you think that living in India we have been getting all the medical facilities that we deserve? We have been living in the 70th year of independence and yet not everyone has got the basic medical facility. Although we have developed a lot in terms of medical technology from equipment to procedures; we are in a state where people from rural areas are denied the basic treatment. Although our government has been planning to get the universal healthcare achieved by the target year 2030, there are a few obstacles that we are facing and will have to face.

What is universal healthcare?

It is the process by which people even below the poverty line can have access to the basic needs of treatment irrespective of whether they have to be hospitalised or operated for some serious illness.

In the year 1948, WHO did start with the venture of “health for all”. This has not been successful yet and that is a sad state. India being one of the big names in Medical tourism is making efforts of making universal health coverage real and achievable in near future.

Photo Courtesy: Ahtribune

Do we need it?

Absolutely, we need it. You will be shocked to know that more than 63 million people get into the bracket of poverty. This is all due to the higher costs of hospitalisation and treatment.

There are many other factors which is posing a threat to the achievement of universal healthcare. Let us know a few about them which will give us a new angle to understanding the actual medical quality in India.

  • There is a dearth of doctors in the rural areas when compared to the urban areas
  • Infant mortality rate in rural areas is 44 which is quite higher than that of the urban areas which is 27
  • Lack of resources in the medical field is another important factor contributing to the poor medical state in the country
  • When compared to China and Brazil, the expenditure of GDP which are 5.1 per cent and 8.9 per cent, India has an expenditure of 3.9 per cent of the gross domestic product every year
  • The share of government on healthcare expenditure is quite lesser. Thailand government has a share of 77 per cent, China government has a share of 55 per cent while Indian government has a share of 30.5 per cent only
  • Out of pocket expenditure in India is too high which a person from a rural area may not be able to afford. To be precise, it is 61 per cent

What’s the stand of the government in this regard?

Well, the government has been trying to ensure universal healthcare in a estimated duration. Government is also making all the efforts of increasing the rate of public expenditure. The rate is targeted to be 2.5 per cent of GDP by the year 2025. The current rate is 1.15 per cent. Government’s National Health Policy also targets on the public-private partnership in order to make minimise the demand-supply gap.

The government can take the following measures

  • The PPP models should be designed keeping in mind the cautiousness of the leakage
  • It should be designed in a way that the private hospitals don’t charge a soaring amount for surgeries and other procedures that need to be applied

As per the PPP project, everyone should be provided free dialysis opportunity because government will pay for the dialysis to the private hospitals at an agreed cost of dialysis. Opening of new hospitals in the rural areas is also in the model so that the inaccessible areas have better scope of treatment.

The main point to keep in mind is that the government should take control of the prices involved in providing the services. This is the only way the leakage can be controlled and avoid abuses.

Not to forget that one such step by the AAP government in Delhi is Mohalla Clinic by Delhi Government. The promise of setting up 1000 Mohalla clinics in Delhi is an important step that can’t be ignored. It has been playing its role since its inception. These clinics were set up to provide healthcare to the people living in the nearby places of Delhi. At present, there are 160 clinics and the target 1000 will be achieved soon.

With all the important and small steps, India can foresee the day when India will have healthcare for all.