A proper health care system remains inaccessible to most of rural India as hospitals lack doctors, nurses and lab technicians.
“We can be treated only when there is a doctor in the hospital. And this is why the poor die”, said Meena from Panna village, Madhya Pradesh. India has a vast health care system. But the differences in delivering basic quality healthcare between rural and urban areas is enormous.
India is estimated to have 10.5 lakh doctors, for a population of 134 crore people. While urban areas have 58% qualified doctors, there is an acute shortage of medical professionals in remote areas. Rural India has 27,000 doctors against 25,000 Public Health Centers (PHC). Most of the rural population depend on the government hospitals for their treatment. The existing healthcare infrastructure is not enough to cater to the growing demand. They lack proper management, staff, and other basic requirements to provide reasonable healthcare.
India has one of the lowest per capita healthcare expenditure in the world, i.e 1.2% of its GDP.
Healthcare over the years has grown manifolds. But access and quality healthcare both have continued to be a problem in rural areas. Around 1.6 million people die every year because of inadequate healthcare. In most situations having money seems to be the key to better health care. While being poor means inadequate healthcare services and can lead to an early death. There have been situations where distance to hospital appears to be associated with increased risk of mortality. After reaching the hospital with limited or no doctors available can be fatal to the patients.
“The hospital is there but the staff is not available. They do come but are not available at the right time”, said Mohan Shyam from Bilaspur Chhattisgarh. According to the National Rural Health Mission report, there are 9174 PHCs functioning without doctors. With the majority of healthcare professionals seem to be concentrated in urban areas, the rural population is affected the most because of this disparity. Additionally, the growth in medical health facilities is strikingly imbalanced in our country. Poor people in hilly or remote areas still cannot access basic health services.
Today in most of the states, providing health care has become a source of revenue. A need to increase the presence of trained doctors in rural areas and to fill the gaps of the health workforce is required. Including nurse practitioners, midwives or physicians in remote areas can also be a strengthening measure towards rural healthcare.
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Article by Grace Jolliffe, a Member of VV Editorial Team.
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