Despite being a major destination for medical tourism and the fastest growing economy, India’s progress in healthcare is slower not just by OECD standards but also as per the standards of the developing world. When compared with emerging economies and its neighbours, India faces a bigger disease burden.
Here are some of the facts which highlight the state of health care in India:
1. India has one of the highest disease burdens (20%) in the world.
2. More people die in India of preventable diseases than anywhere.
3. India still accounts for 27% of neonatal deaths, 23% of infant deaths and 23% of TB deaths in the world. Out of the total neonatal deaths, 35% are due to lack of nutrition.
4. Every fifth person in India suffers from a chronic disease and more than 6 out of 10 people die from non-communicable diseases.
5. Cancer cases in India are also likely to rise by 25 per cent by 2020 from 1.4 million to 1.7 million by 2020.
6. Disease burden to cost India $6.2 trillion by 2030.
7. Between 1990 and 2010 premature deaths from cardiovascular diseases increased by 59 per cent to 37 million from 23.2 million.
8. Nearly 40% of the Indian population of all ages has mycobacterium tuberculosis infection; and there are about 85 lakh people with TB at any given time.
9. The US has 2.5 doctors and 11.1 nurses per 1000 population, while India has 0.7 Doctors and 1.1 Nurses per 1000 population.
10. India’s ambitious National Health Policy plans to increase public spending on health from 1.15% to 2.5% by 2025, when only 17.33% of the lower income classes having access to free health care.
It is clear that the government alone won’t be able to address all the health care issues. Although the National Health Policy 2017 has been approved, the target set promises little.
Corporations should see this gap as an opportunity to partner with the government to play a responsible role in improving the health care system. What we have been witnessing so far is their focus on health camps, building hospitals or donating equipment to hospitals. Most of these activities can only generate short-term impact and the targets are poorly set.
Instead, businesses can train local youths while pharmacists can be trained to prescribe medicines for minor ailments. One example is the Fiinovation and RPG foundation partnership to train youths in ‘patient care’. Similarly, companies could fund medical education to reduce the significant shortage of doctors and nurses. The concept of barefoot doctors in China can be implemented in rural areas. Additionally, CSR funds can also be utilized to provide medical treatment and promote traditional medicines.
By Rahul Choudhury
Media & Communications, Fiinovation