Dr KK Aggarwal
Recipient of Padma Shri
There is a wide gap in the availability of healthcare service in the country. On one hand, India is fast becoming the hub of medial tourism, whereas in a sharp contrast, healthcare including essential healthcare is still out of reach for many of her citizens.
The private sector provides 80% of healthcare in the country today, while only 20% is by govt. sector. This is because the govt. spends very little on health. Currently, India spends just 1% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on health and is ranked at 180th position out of 192 countries on this. Without spending at least 5-6% of the GDP on health, the basic healthcare needs of the population cannot be fulfilled. Although the National Health Policy, 2017 has provided for increasing public expenditure on health to 2.5% of GDP from the current ~1%, it is still very inadequate to provide universal healthcare.
The highly priced private healthcare is inaccessible to many; yet many seek healthcare in the private sector, and often find themselves in financial trouble.
Very few people in the country have health insurance coverage. India has one of the highest out of expenditures on health in the world, which is over 60%, which contributes to poverty due to exorbitant health expenses resulting in further inequity in health services.
Universal health coverage is the answer to affordable healthcare of quality in developing countries like India. The goal of universal health coverage is to ensure that all people receive the health services they need without suffering financial hardship when paying for them (WHO Online Q&A, December 2014). Universal healthcare provides Affordable, Adequate, Accessible, Available, Appropriate and Accountable quality and safe healthcare to the public.
Achieving universal health coverage is a target under the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 3) “to achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all (3.8)”.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has chosen “Universal health coverage: everyone, everywhere” as the theme of the World Health Day this year.
Every citizen in the country has a right to receive safe and quality medical treatment. Right to health and medical care has been recognized as a fundamental right covered by Article 21 by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India.
It is the constitutional duty of the govt. to provide quality healthcare for all. In this day and age, when medicine has made tremendous advances, nobody should die just because they cannot afford treatment.
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