As we set foot in a new year, we reflect on the last and wish of an India where everyone lives in good health.
Dr Khushboo Juneja, Assistant Professor, Department of Community Medicine, Sharda University highlights, "COVID-19 has again made us realize that we are far away from achieving Sustainable Development Goals that we want to achieve by 2030. Health related Sustainable Developmental Goal 3 has number of targets included in it. One of main target is 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."
"Public healthcare starts from Primary Health Centre which is one of the most important healthcare delivery system in village where major chunk of Indian Population lives. Ayushman Bharat launched in 2018 is one step to make India’s public healthcare change for better," she adds.
Here is one such wishlist of things that could take us to the desired position:
Boost in budget allotments
In spite of fair increment in budget outlays over the last year, India continues to spend some of the lowest amounts as a nation on health, only around 1.1 per cent of its GDP. The National Health Policy advocates increasing the outlay – Centre and state combined – to 2.5 per cent. It further recommends that state budgets increase health allocation 8 per cent of the total budget. At present, all states except Delhi a lot less than 8 per cent. The Union budget also received a good increment of 19 per cent after near-constant allocations for two years.
The state and national budget allocations should rise by at least 25 per cent in the next year. A leap in state government's allocations to health is necessary. States raising their allocation by 1 per cent each year will help in reaching the suggested goal of 8 per cent in four years.
Preetha Vasanji, Managing Director (India), Doceree, affirms, "The pandemic has been very tough for India’s healthcare sector. COVID has highlighted the shortcomings our healthcare ecosystem has and the areas that need immediate attention and improvement. To upgrade the infrastructure is not possible without increasing the spends on healthcare. In this year budget, the government did increase healthcare allocations, but some budgetary supports are only meant for one time. This will not help achieve the committed goal of increasing the healthcare spends to 2.5 percent of GDP by 2025."
Strengthening confidence between patients and doctors
There exists low level of trust between the people and doctors, giving rise to various cases of violence against doctors. This state of affairs is a consequence of an overextended medical setup with irrational incentives, making space for immoral practices and an rising cost of care.
"Improving public healthcare needs a continuous money inflow and that is what government need to work upon, especially after the tumultuous time we witnessed after COVID, which also widened the trust deficit between doctors and people. This gap also need to be bridged to improve the country’s overall public healthcare scenario," Vasanji adds.
On the bright side, the trust deficit is so worse that it can only be enhanced. 2022 should mark the beginning of an age of more empathy by doctors and improved communication between patients and doctors.
Claiming harmony and peace
Conflicts brings about bad health in the societies. In the past few years, prolonged curfews, internet shutdowns and restricted communication in some regions of the nation, have adversely affected the physical and mental health of citizens.
Let's hope for a year of harmony, peace and stability, supporting people live healthier lives.
Creating safer workplaces
A report released by Safe in India disclosed how several workers in the automobile sector lose their fingers and hands operating in factories in Gurgaon. In 2022, let's hope that India’s workforce across sectors have reach to safe working environments and wish that factory administrators and owners become more compassionate to their employees’ illnesses and security.
Let us hope that all primary healthcare centres in the nation facilitate better medical care with dignity, specially to the most marginalised.
In 2022, let's hope that fewer babies die and more people receive medical support when they require it, irrespective of whether they are accompanied by others.