Lucknow- India has a mixed healthcare system that includes both public and private healthcare providers. While efforts have been made to strengthen public healthcare in India, there are still challenges such as inadequate infrastructure, a shortage of healthcare professionals, and disparities in healthcare access between rural and urban areas. Also, the government needs to monitor the prices of medicine and healthcare. These were some of the issues discussed at the public meeting organized by Jan Swasthya Abhiyaan at the Dr. Kaifi Azmi Academy, Lucknow. The seminar was addressed by, among others, doctors, health workers, academicians, etc.
Speaking to Mooknayak Deepak Kabir, the convener of Jan Swasthya Abhiyan said, "The agenda for the seminar today was Health for all, and health means mental as well as physical health. We discussed issues like differential pricing for the same medicine because of the privatization of medicines. While on one hand, the rich have hospitals like Medanta, Apollo, while the poor struggle for a bed. Despite the havoc wreaked by covid, the government has slashed the expenditure on health. There are no doctors in the village as 70-72% of seats are vacant. Professor Ramesh Dixit said that it is the responsibility of the government to ensure the availability of health and education for its people.
Professor Anil Kumar of Ram Swaroop University said, "The agenda of the seminar was that the health policies of the government need to benefit the people. For example, CHOs were appointed to take the Ayushman Bharat to the people, but at the health centers, there is a shortage of medical equipment, staff, etc., and we will be able to take the facilities to the people only if the human resource is available in sufficient numbers." Pointing out the shortcomings of the surveys conducted, he mentioned that the National Family Health Survey questionnaire does not ask the people if they go to quacks, whereas the fact is that around 30% of the people in villages resort to quacks.
Addressing the seminar, Dr. Indraneel from OP Jindal University cited the National Sample Survey, saying, "Ayushman Yojana cover is believed to be a free health service provider scheme, but the reality is that only 3 out of 100 people were given free services and the rest of them had to pay the amount, and in private hospitals, around two-thirds of the people ended up giving more than 10,000 rs. He pointed out that the National Health Policy 2017 itself says that 'Healthcare is a business, and we have to promote this business.' Dr. Richa from Delhi pointed out that there is a shortage of around 70% of health staff in rural areas. "The health sector is bearing the brunt of high contractual appointments, as ASHA workers, anganwadi workers are working for a meager honorarium. Now they are also burdened with making the people aware of schemes like PM Jan Arogya Yojana. They have to bear the cost of transportation, etc., for conveyance," she said.
The speakers also pointed out that at the time of the Covid outbreak, it was the public sector that initially came to the rescue of the people, and the private sector only indulged in profiteering in the pandemic. Other important points raised by the speakers at the event included:
• NFS survey which says that out-of-pocket expenses have increased from 1,956 to 2,300
• The government has increased the rates of around 800 medicines from 10-12%
• The mortality rate in children below 5 years of age is 50/1000
• The slashing of the health budget from 3.6% to 2.4% in 2023-2024
Increase in the share of Jan Aushadhi Kendras and the share of government hospitals in medical supply
• Strict action against corporate corruption in the health sector
• Roll back the price hike in the prices of 800 essential medicines
• Improve public healthcare facilities
• Increase the cover of PM Jan Arogya Yojana from 5 lakh to 10 lakh -15 lakh
• Recruitment of medical staff at the rural level
• Implement the Clinical Stability Act standards in all hospitals, especially private clinics
• Display the charter of rights of patients in all hospitals, etc.
It is to be noted that it is the people from the marginalized sections of society like SC/ST/OBC who have to suffer because of inadequate and unaffordable medical facilities at the ground level; therefore, the government should focus on inclusive healthcare policy.