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Economic Survey 2020-21 Underscores The Importance Of Investing In The Public Healthcare System

While presenting the Economic Survey for the year 2020-21, Chief Economic Adviser Krishnamurthy Venkata Subramanian said that COVID-19 pandemic has shown how a healthcare crisis can become an economic and social crisis

Economic Survey 2020-21 Underscores The Importance Of Investing In The Public Healthcare System
Highlights
  • Healthcare has finally taken a centre stage: KV Subramanian
  • Out-of-pocket expenses of people should be reduced: Eco Survery
  • Lockdown helped restrict 37 lakh COVID cases, 1 lakh deaths: Eco Survery

New Delhi: The Economic Survey 2020-21 which was tabled in the Parliament on Friday (January 29) has highlighted the need for increased investment in the public healthcare system. While presenting the key findings of the survey, Chief Economic Adviser Krishnamurthy Venkata Subramanian said that COVID-19 pandemic has shown how a healthcare crisis can become an economic and social crisis. He said that public spending on healthcare sector needs to be increased from the current 1.2 per cent of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) to 2.5-3 per cent. The Economic Survey says that public health infrastructure needs to be strengthened and made agile to be able to respond to emergency health crisis like pandemics.

Also Read: Economic Survey: Initiatives Like Swachh Bharat Mission Have Improved Access To ‘Bare Necessities’ In The Country

According to the survey, the country has made significant progress in improving its health outcomes over the last two decades by eliminating Polio, Guinea worm disease, and maternal and neonatal Tetanus. The Economic Survey also noted the benefits of the Swachh Bharat Mission, as it led to a decrease in diseases like Diarrhoea and malaria cases in children below five years, stillbirths and newborns with weight less than 2.5 kilograms. The Survey also said that the use of Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY) has increased for covering high-frequency care like dialysis. PM-JAY also known as Ayushman Bharat Yojana is a government health insurance scheme that provides Rs. 5 lakh of medical cover per year to over 10 crore poor families. The survey finds that because of improvement in the insurance coverage, there has been an improvement in Infant and Child Mortality Rate and maternal and child health.

However, the survey noted that the country still lacks in terms of quality healthcare and has recommended establishing regulating agencies that can help mitigate information gap and assess the quality of healthcare providers.

16 Lakh People Died In India In 2018 Due To Poor Quality Of Healthcare: Economic Survey

The Economic Survey highlights that a large proportion of deaths in the country occur due to poor quality of healthcare and insufficient access to healthcare. It said that 16 lakh deaths in India in 2018 were due to poor quality of care while 8.4 lakh deaths were because of non-utilisation of healthcare services.

The survey noted that while the share of public institutions has increased both in hospital and outpatient cares, the private sector dominates in total healthcare provision in the country. About 74 per cent of outpatient (a patient who receives treatment without being hosptalised) care and 65 per cent of hospitalization care is provided through the private sector in urban areas across the county, it said. The unregulated private enterprise can create significant negative effects it said and called for regulating these to ensure better healthcare.

Also Read: One In Three Adults Anxious, Depressed Due To COVID-19, States A Latest Study

India Has One Of The Highest Levels Of Out-Of-Pocket Health Expenses In The World: Survey

The survey says that India has one of the highest levels of out-of-pocket health expenses in the world contributing directly to the high incidence of expenditures and poverty. While presenting the findings, Mr. Subramanian said,

An inverse correlation exists between the level of public spending and out-of-pocket expenses. If government spending on healthcare is increased, it will substantially reduce out-of-pocket expenses of households.

According to the survey, the increase in government spending on health from the current 1.2 per cent to 2.5 per cent can decrease out-of-pocket expenses from the current 65 per cent to 35 per cent of overall healthcare expenditure.

The survey pointed out that unregulated private healthcare system also results in variation in costs for treating the same disease between public and private sector. For example, the treatment of cancer in private hospitals is almost 3.7 times of the cost of the same treatment in a public hospital. Similarly, the cost of treatment for respiratory illness at a private hospital is almost 5.2 times of the public hospital, it said.

Saving Lives And Livelihood Amidst The Pandemic

In its chapter titled ‘Saving Lives and Livelihoods Amidst a Once-in-a-Century Crisis’, the Economic Survey says that the country has benefitted from the preventive measures adopted at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of saving lives of people even though there have been some economic challenges. It said,

The ‘price’ paid for temporary economic restrictions in the form of temporary decline is dwarfed by the ‘value’ placed on human life.

It added that the stringent lockdown at the start of the pandemic enabled flattening of the pandemic curve and provided the necessary time to ramp up the health and testing infrastructure.

The survey has estimated that the restrictions imposed to break the chain of transmission has controlled the COVID-19 spread by 37 lakh cases and saved more than 1 lakh lives. The document says that Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Bihar have contained the spread the best while Kerala, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have saved the most lives. Maharashtra has under-performed the most in restricting the spread of cases and in saving lives, said the survey.

Also Read: Improve Health System, Enhance Global Cooperation To Tackle COVID-Like Crisis In Future: International Monetary Fund

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene

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