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:
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
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,
33 out of 55 million fell under the poverty line due to expenditure on medicines alone.
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
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
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 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.
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.