India’s rank in the Human Development Index Report 2018 (130 out of 189 countries) issued by the UNDP illustrates height of ignorance of Indian health sector.

Some Disturbing and Alarming Stastics in Indian Healthcare System:

  • India spends 1.4% of GDP on health (which is less than countries like Sri Lanka and Nepal). Source: India Spend, January 2018.
  • An assessed 469 million people do not have regular access to essential medicines. Source: WHO 
  • 70% of the overall household expenditure on health is on medicines. Source: WHO 
  • Studies have shown the rising out-of-pocket (OOP) costs on healthcare is forcing around 32- 39 million Indians below the poverty line annually. Source: First Post , NCBI
  • Heart disease (1/4 people) and stroke is the biggest killer of men and women in India. Source 
  •  7% of Indians fall below the poverty line just because of indebtedness due to this expenditure, as well as that this figure hasn’t changed much in a decade. Nearly 23% of the sick can’t afford to pay for healthcare due to these payments. Source: Oxfam India 
  • 55 million were pushed into poverty in a single year due to unaffordable healthcare. (PHFI, 2018) 
  •  33 out of 55 million fell under the poverty line due to expenditure on medicines alone. (PHFI, 2018)

Though HealthCare is a Fundamental Right, It is Not Fundamentally Right in India

Though public health centers, dispensaries, hospitals and other medical facilities exist, they are not adequate to cater to the ever-growing needs of India’s extensive population. Besides, India has only 10 lakh registered doctors to cater to 1.3 billion citizens and going by the MCI claims, half of the doctors are quacks (the unregistered ones who do not hold a proper degree in allopathy). Also, while urban areas have 58% qualified doctors, the number in rural areas is as low as 18.8%.

Even though India continues to devote about 1.4% of its GDP on health sector, it is far less than the required amount. In fact, some of the poorest countries of the world spend more than India when it comes to investing in healthcare. The availability of public health care services is appalling. There is only 1 allopathic government doctor per 10,189 people, only 1 hospital bed per 2046 people, and 1 state-run hospital per 90,343 people. According to National Health Profile, out of 1 million doctors in India, only 10% of them work in the public health sector. They lack dedicated staff, good infrastructure, proper management and many significant things that are required to deliver appropriate healthcare.

Under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, The Supreme Court has held healthcare to be a fundamental right. However, with government spending of just over a percent of GDP affirms that India’s healthcare needs remain underserved. No wonder, primary healthcare is in shambles.

The World Bank estimates that 90% of all health needs can be met at the primary healthcare level however, in India, there is only 1 primary healthcare centre for more than 51,000 people. India, as a country, has grossly under-invested in the area that should matter the most.

Failure of Allopathy

Allopathy, the modern medicine is the most acceptable medicine therapy by majority of people. It has number of advantages that makes it as the uppermost medicine system in the present time but it does have flaws like inefficacy in curing certain chronic diseases and then again the adverse effects are unavoidable.

Besides, there are drawbacks as well

  • New drug discovery and development is time consuming and costly, leading to billions of dollars being spent on launching a new drug.
  • Use of modern system is associated with either partial response or nonresponsiveness in some patients.
  • Some of the new drugs are found to be unsafe during postmarketing surveillance, hence making longawaited discovery a failure Inadequacy in treating chronic diseases such as allergies, arthritis, and hyperacidity
  • Organisms becoming resistant to the drugs, leading to the lack in the remedies left with the modern system for resistant organisms
  • Blind eye toward spiritual and social health

Amalgamation of Allopathy with Ayurveda

Various disorders respond better to alternative remedies: take the example of ksharasutra therapy for anorectal problems. While allopathic treatment is surgical, and is associated with a risk of reappearance, the ksharasutra remedy (which involves the use of an alkaline medicated thread), is both, effective and works for long term.

The future of healthcare therefore lies in effective collaboration between physicians, ayurvedic practitioners, massage therapists and yoga experts.

Though mingling modern medicine with traditional therapies is not an easy mission, we need to gear up for an era of integrative medicine. Adopting an “either-or” method to healthcare, which forces people to choose between allopathic treatment and Ayurvedic therapies is doomed to failure in long-term especially with the inflow of new disorders. It’s time for us to change its tune.

Death Rate

Approximately 61% of deaths in India are due to non-communicable diseases, which include diabetes, heart disorders, and cancer. The other big killers include lung diseases caused by air pollution and life-style related things such as smoking. (Source)

Therefore, it is recommended that all future planning on Indian health and development should be on the prevailing conditions of the country.