We have basic infra for UHC: Experts

Namrata Devikar
Friday, 6 April 2018

‘Universal Health Coverage’ is an initiative by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on the occasion of World Health Day, which is celebrated worldwide on April 7.

PUNE: Medical experts from the city have said that the basic infrastructure for the ‘Universal Health Coverage’ (UHC) is available in India. However, the system lacks political will. 

‘Universal Health Coverage’ is an initiative by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on the occasion of World Health Day, which is celebrated worldwide on April 7.

Speaking to Sakal Times, Dr Abhijeet More, a public health expert from the city, said the public healthcare budget released this time is only 1.1 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

“The budget allocation is one of the lowest in the world. For a country, which boasts of having the youngest population, having universal health coverage is mandatory. Every year, around six crore people are pushed below the poverty line because of expensive healthcare. Almost 80 per cent health expenditure leaves a big hole in the pocket of an average family,” said More.

He said generic medicines should be propagated by authorities so that the major expenditure of the people will reduce.

STATE SCENARIO
Dr Meenakshi Deshpande, Secretary, Indian Medical Association (IMA), Pune Chapter, said though Maharashtra is one of the most developed states in India, public health services remain inadequate and insufficiently responsive. She added these services should be improved to provide round-the-clock specialist referral care.

Deshpande said Maharashtra is the richest state economy in the country with 15 per cent of the national GDP. However, its public health expenditure is low, that is less than 0.5 per cent of the State Development Product (SDP).

“Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) should be empowered to perform the full range of essential public health functions to the population covered by appointing a Public Health Officer (PHO) responsible for implementing essential public health functions. Also, sub-centres should be upgraded to function as first contact care units, with the availability of a basic integrated doctor and a nurse practitioner,” said Deshpande.

PRIVATE PUBLIC PARTNERSHIP FOR HEALTH
While talking about the Private Public Partnership (PPP), More said that there is a need for regulation in the private set-up. 

“The private parties should be regulated by the government wherein they can be a part of the PPP model and a more patient-centric model can be devised. The government should enforce such guidelines where the private players are regulated,” said More.

Vishal Bali, Co-founder and Chairman, Medwell Ventures said, “The startup ecosystem in healthcare which has contributed to the rise in the use of digital technologies in various facets of healthcare has also played an important role in the market.” 

“With new technology, the trends in healthcare seem to move towards improving access, delivery and personalisation. The diagnostics industry is similarly transforming disease detection with innovative technologies,” said Bali.

He emphasised that all these changes happening in the industry will collectively contribute to the idea of universal healthcare in  India.

WHY UNIVERSAL HEALTH COVERAGE?
- According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) countries that invest in UHC make a sound investment in their human capital. In recent decades, UHC has emerged as a key strategy to make progress towards other health-related and broader development goals. 
- Access to essential quality care and financial protection not only enhances people’s health and life expectancy, it also protects countries from epidemics, reduces poverty and the risk of hunger, creates jobs, drives economic growth and enhances gender equality.

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