Covid 19 has brought about immeasurable changes in almost all aspects of our lives, as well as in the society, Governments and businesses; the first touchpoint being the healthcare ecosystem. The virus has proven that health, both at the individual and collective level is the real asset and putting in place a strong healthcare system is an absolute necessity for all countries across the globe.
Countries such as Japan, Thailand, and Vietnam that have strong primary healthcare systems have effectively been able to tackle the crisis better than others. Closer home, states like Karnataka and Kerala have responded better to the pandemic, with a relatively better public healthcare ecosystem and a concerted strategy.
Low Spending on the Healthcare System
It has been observed that India’s share of public expenditure on health as a percentage of the GDP is low. In 2016, the public spend on health was 1. 17 percent of the GDP.
In 2019 – 20, the country’s total healthcare spend, including public and out-of-pocket expenses, stood between 5.6 percent – 6.2 percent. Within this, the out-of-pocket healthcare spend is quite high; about 65 percent of the healthcare expenses are borne privately by individuals (approximately 2.5 percent of the GDP).
The Union Budget 2017 – 18 and the National Health Policy 2017 prioritized creation of a network of Health Sub-centres and Primary Health Centres. While these are now present across the country, they need to function optimally.
The launch of the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY) under the Ayushman Bharat initiative is a major step towards Universal Health Coverage. It aims to provide healthcare facilities to 10.74 crore families, with INR 5 lakh cover each year, for secondary and tertiary care. It will be implemented along with State Government schemes.
Gaps in Public Health Delivery Systems
Lack of funding of public healthcare systems is a major challenge across the world, including India. Let us look some short term challenges:
The long term challenges could be summed up as below.
A stronger collaborative approach between the Government and the private sector can help to fortify the overall healthcare ecosystem. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the State Governments play a crucial role in guiding India’s public health system. There is larger scope for the private sector to fill in critical gaps to strengthen the public healthcare system, which will help India to put up a strong fight against Covid or diseases like tuberculosis, etc.
The vision document on Strengthening Public Heath Delivery – Role of Multiple Stakeholders prepared by CII looks into the pressing issues in public healthcare delivery in India and touches upon areas which include: What strategies corporates can adopt for effective collaboration with the public sector; how the collaboration can be facilitated; and why is it needed to be done effectively.