India needs to strengthen the rural health infrastructure

Synopsis: Rural health infrastructure (SHCs, PHCs and CHCs) needs to be Modernised to cater to the health needs of the 65% of the population living in rural areas


  • According to info, out of 139 crore population of India, at least 91 crore people are living in 649,481 villages.
  • The second wave of Covid-19 had impacted the rural community the most.
  • Further, there is a growing incidence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as hypertension, diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular diseases in rural India. As per WHO, NCDs cause nearly about 5.87 million (60%) of all deaths in India.
  • Accordingly, there is a need to focus on strengthening the existing rural health infrastructure.
  • Prioritising the development of the rural health network (SHCs, PHCs and CHCs) will help in the effective delivery of Health services to rural people.
Inadequate and poor health infrastructure in the rural areas

According to the fact shared by the Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare in the Rajya Sabha. India is having inadequate PHCs, CHCs, specialists, etc.

  • Inadequate primary health centres (PHCs):  India has only 25,743 primary health centres (PHCs) though the estimated requirement of PHC’s in rural India is 29,337. (Shortfall of 3,594 units).
  • Inadequate community health centres (CHCs): Against the requirement of 7,322 CHC’s, rural India has only 5,624 community health centres (CHCs).
  • Inadequate specialists in CHC’s: Data on CHCs, show that, overall, there is a shortfall of 81.8% specialists as compared to the requirement for existing CHCs.
  • Inadequate infrastructure: According to the Human Development Report 2020, India has eight hospital beds for a population of 10,000 people, while China has 40 beds for the same number of people.
Significance of rural health infrastructure in effective delivery of health Services
  1. Rural health networks will help to treat the diseases at the primary level. Further, it will also help us save a lot of money and the resources being spent at tertiary level health care.
    • For instance, if our Sub-HCs work effectively, there will be less pressure on PHCs. If the PHCs function well, then there will be minimal pressure on CHCs and so on.
  2. It will enable people’s participation in ensuring better functioning of rural health services.
    • For example, in case of Haryana, Swasthya Kalyan Samitis, or SKSs were constituted for all CHCs, PHCs.
    • It helped health providers  to engage with all kinds of rural community organisations (panchayats, gram Sabha, notified area committees, municipal bodies and non-governmental organisations) in minimising the adverse impact of the pandemic on rural life.
Suggestions to improve rural health infrastructure:
  1. Rural health networks should have access to the health data of people in their respective areas. It will enable them to identify those likely to slip into the secondary or tertiary care zone.
  2. Need to conduct Regular health camps. It will help us to identify those on the verge of developing tuberculosis, hypertension, diabetes or any diseases owing to their socio and economic conditions.
  3. A CHC or referral centre should be modernized with effective and adequate health infrastructure. For example, A single CHC should have least 30 beds for indoor patients, operation theatre, labour room, X-ray machine, pathological laboratory, standby generators’ etc.,

WHO states that ensuring accessibility, affordability and Quality are Key to achieve Universal Health Coverage. The government should strive to provide regular and comprehensive healthcare needs in rural areas guided by the World Health Organization (WHO)’s principle of Universal Health Coverage.


Source: The Hindu

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