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Source: The post is based on the article “India must focus on health and education post-budget” published in the Livemint on 30th January 2023.
Syllabus: GS 2 – Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health and Education.
Relevance: About the status of healthcare and education.
News: The government must focus on improving the status of healthcare and education.
What is the status of healthcare and education?
-Low budget spending: The National Health Policy of 2017 set a target for government spending on healthcare which is 2.5% of gross domestic product (GDP) by both the Centre and states.
But the budgetary outlay for healthcare has been range-bound between 1.2% and 1.4% in the period 2014-20. Thereafter, the covid pandemic saw it rising to 1.8% in 2020-21, and 2.1% for 2021-22.
-According to a public health research organization, India had 69,265 hospitals in 2019, which translates roughly to one hospital for every 20,350 Indians.
-The increased role of Private in health care: There are only 25,778 public hospitals against 43,487 private ones. Of the roughly 1.9 million hospital beds in India, there are only 0.71 million beds in public hospitals against 1.18 million in the private sector.
-Less health insurance penetration: Over 80% of India’s population is not covered by health insurance, forcing patients to pay for expensive treatment from their own pockets.
-Unethical practices: Regulation in the sector has focused largely on higher education and elementary and secondary school stages. Regulation for the two other stages—pre-primary and tertiary (10+2) levels—is largely a grey area, leading to multiple unethical practices. A 2022 study by the ministry of education found that close to 61% of the Centre’s spending is focused on elementary and secondary education.
For example, many premier 10+2 institutions outsource their pedagogy to coaching outfits and charge exorbitant fees.
-Edtech and coaching classes are two other categories that require stricter regulation.
–Low spending: The 1968 education policy promised 6% of GDP. This was reaffirmed in the 1986 policy and its 1992 review, National Education Policy. But still, the combined Centre-state expenditure on education, as per Economic Survey 2021-22, has remained at 2.8% of GDP through 2014-20.
What should be done to improve the status of healthcare and education?
Regulating the healthcare and education sectors is not easy. So, there should be close coordination with states and their various institutions.
Budget is not the ideal vehicle to accomplish the complex task of improving regulatory structures. Hence, a post-budget start has to be made.