Policy Matter

‘Significant rise in health expenditure required’

India’s public expenditure on health was meager and the country needed an effective, affordable and universal health care system backed by robust infrastructure, President Pranab Mukherjee said.

“There are 7 hospital beds per 10,000 populations in India, compared to 23 in Brazil, 38 in China and 97 in Russia. In terms of healthcare professionals, we again lag behind the other BRIC countries. Health services in India still suffer from lack of reach and constraints of quality,” said Dr. Mukherjee, after inaugurating the Mid-Term Meet of the National Interventional Council of the Cardiological Society of India.

The President said India’s public expenditure on health was meager, making the country far below the BRIC nations.

“India’s per capita government expenditure on health in PPP terms is US Dollar 44, as against 809 in Russia, 474 in Brazil and 236 in China. Considering that we are a sixth of humanity, a significant rise in health expenditure is urgently required to ensure universal health coverage,” he said.

In terms of healthcare professionals too, India lagged behind other BRIC countries. While there were 7 physicians per 10,000 people in India, Brazil had 19, China had 15 and Russia had 43 professionals/1000 people.

A universal health insurance mechanism, he said, was the need of the hour.

Citing statistics, Mukherjee said only about 17 per cent of India’s population (about 216 million

people) had health cover, as on March 2014, and that the government needed to bring the uncovered population under the health security net.

“An insured population will also be a healthy population, which will exhibit a greater propensity to seek education, acquire knowledge and access job opportunities. Good health and fitness of the people will truly be a reflection of our country’s progress,” he said.

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