Dr. Ajay Narang sheds light on the current state of India’s healthcare system, highlighting key issues and potential pathways for improvement
The healthcare landscape in India has undergone remarkable transformations in recent decades, positioning the nation as a model for emerging countries worldwide. However, the sector faces unique challenges, particularly in terms of infrastructure, funding, and access to quality care. Dr. Ajay Narang, MD Microbiology Lead Advisor & Mentor Operations at Redcliffe Labs, delves into the issues plaguing both public and private healthcare systems, offering insights and potential solutions.
Bridging the Gap: Inadequate Infrastructure and Funding
India’s healthcare system is divided into urban and rural sectors, each grappling with distinct challenges. While urban areas boast advanced infrastructure and healthcare professionals, rural regions often lack basic facilities and services. The dearth of modern, quality healthcare in the public sector compels many individuals to seek expensive private treatment. Unfortunately, this option remains unattainable for a significant portion of the rural population due to limited income and insufficient insurance coverage. Addressing the disparity in infrastructure and funding allocation is crucial to ensure equitable access to healthcare for all.
Out-of-Pocket Expenses: A Burden on Patients
Public hospitals, though providing free healthcare, face their own challenges, including infrastructure limitations and staff shortages. Consequently, patients often resort to private institutions, resulting in significant out-of-pocket expenses. Statistics indicate that 65 percent of medical costs in India are paid directly by patients. To mitigate this burden, increasing the adoption of health insurance is essential. Collaboration between the government and private institutions is necessary to promote the acceptance of digital insurance processing technologies and expedite insurance claims, making healthcare more affordable and accessible for all.
Prioritizing Preventive Care for Better Health
Preventive care has not received adequate emphasis in India’s healthcare system. Greater awareness and promotion of preventive measures can significantly reduce financial burdens and pressure on the limited healthcare infrastructure. There is a need for increased awareness campaigns that highlight the value of preventive healthcare and its role in enhancing overall well-being. Collaboration between industry and government sectors is crucial in disseminating this message to a wider audience, particularly in Tier 2 and 3 cities where access to quality healthcare and diagnostic facilities remains limited.
Timely Diagnosis and Efficient Manpower
Early diagnosis is vital in healthcare, as it saves lives and reduces costs. Unfortunately, delayed diagnoses are still prevalent in India, resulting in adverse outcomes. Expanding diagnostic facilities and making them accessible to all segments of society is imperative. Additionally, addressing the shortage of trained medical personnel, especially in rural areas, is crucial. Boosting the capacity of existing training institutions and establishing new ones will help bridge the manpower gap and improve healthcare delivery.
Proactive Healthcare and Policy Interventions
A proactive approach to healthcare and public health policy is essential to meet the evolving needs of India’s population. The National Health Policy of 2017 emphasizes the goal of “Health for All” and provides a framework for affordable healthcare. Primary healthcare should be the focal point, with increased investments in quality and cost-effective services. Government initiatives like the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana and the Ayushman Bharat scheme are steps in the right direction, but more efforts are needed to build a robust healthcare system across the country.