What is the news?
Recently, Oxfam India released “Inequality Report 2021: India’s Unequal Healthcare Story”. Oxfam India’s inequality report draws attention to the county’s unequal healthcare story hit further by Covid-19.
The report shows that the constant underfunding of the public healthcare system in the last decade have worsened health infrastructure.
Key findings of the report
- The report says that the absence of universal health coverage has starkly and disproportionately affected marginalised groups at a time when socio-economic inequalities in India are growing because of the Covid-19 pandemic. When it comes to healthcare,
- People in the general category are better off than Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) households;
- The rich do better than the poor; men are better off than women, and
- The urban population fares better than the rural.
- The disastrous second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic further exposed the weakness of India’s public healthcare system. Such as,
- Currently, India ranks 155 out of 167 countries on bed availability and has five beds and 8.6 doctors per 10,000 of its population.
- Rural India, which makes for 70 per cent of the population, has barely 40 per cent of the beds.
- The number of hospital beds per thousand population in India (at 0.5) is lower than some of the lesser developed countries such as Bangladesh (0.87), Kenya (1.4), and Chile (2.1).
- Persistent underfunding of (the) public health system, especially primary health care and inadequate health infrastructure in India remain to be addressed.
- Over the years, a better health system has, for instance, helped increase life expectancy, but outcomes have varied across gender, caste and income levels. For instance,
- The rich, on average, live seven-and-a-half years more than the poor
- A woman from the general category lives, on an average, 15 years longer than a Dalit woman
- Oxfam India findings show that higher public health allocations have a positive effect on health outcomes in a pandemic. For instance, States such as Odisha and Goa, with higher expenditure on health, also had higher recovery rate from Covid-19.
- In Oxfam’s “Commitment to Reducing Inequality Report 2020”, India ranks 154th in health spending, fifth from the bottom.
- In the 2021-22 Union Budget, a year following a pandemic, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) budget was allocated with a 9.8 percent decline from the Revised Estimates of 2020-21.
Recommendations of the report
The report recommends the implementation of universal health coverage (UHC) supported by a strong public health sector.