January 20, 2021

The health sector in India

“Health is wealth “WHO defines health as state of complete physical, mental and social well being and not merely absence of disease or infirmity. The determinants of good health are: access to various types of health services, and an individual’s lifestyle choices, personal, family and social relationships.

India has a mixed health-care system, inclusive of public and private health-care service providers. However, most of the private health-care providers are concentrated in urban India, providing secondary and tertiary care health-care services. Health is a causative factor that affects country’s aggregate level of economic growth.

Indian healthcare delivery system is categorized into two major components – public and private. The Government, i.e. public healthcare system comprises limited secondary and tertiary care institutions in key cities and focuses on providing basic healthcare facilities in the form of primary healthcare centers (PHCs) in rural areas. The private sector provides majority of secondary, tertiary and quaternary care institutions with a major concentration in metros, tier I and tier II cities.

 The health sector in India

The union ministry of health and family welfare is responsible for various programs being driven in health sector which is headed by Dr. Harsh Vardhana. Public health, hospitals, sanitation fall in state list while family welfare prevention of food adulteration, quality control in manufacturing of drugs come under concurrent list.

MOHFW spend money direct under central scheme or by grant in aids to autonomous / statutory bodies and NGOs.

MOHFW comprises four departments:

  1. Department of health and family welfare
  2. Department of AYUSH
  3. Department of health research
  4. Department of AIDS control


Challenges in the health sector of India:

  1. Awareness of it: Most of the population is not aware about the proper health practices, checkups etc. Most of them don’t have any idea about proper reproductive issues. As people aren’t aware they fear to go to the doctor. For example consider the current situation of novel corona virus going on in our country most people are not taking it seriously and are roaming around unnecessarily without taking any precautionary measures, and even people have a fear of doctor they even don’t want to go to the hospitals even though they show symptoms. That’s why people require proper awareness and guidance.
  2. Access of it: Many parts of our country doesn’t even have proper health care facilities within 5km of range which is the main reason people those are met with any tragedy(accident) are not able not reach hospitals and eventually die.
  3. Absence of the human power in healthcare:The doctor-population ratio in India is 1:1456 against the WHO recommendation of 1:1000.Due to absence of human power many people do not get treatment.
  4. Affordability or the cost of healthcare: there is a lack of proper facilities in the government hospital and if any govt. hospital is present with proper facilities then there’s no chance for the turn because it is heavily occupied with large number of patients. Now when people having low income sources try to reach the private hospitals they are unable to afford them because of the high fees.

5.Lack of awareness:most of them don’t even have a health insurance which is due to lack of awareness                because of which many people are left untreated.

  1. Health care budget:Our healthcare budget is inadequate; the total healthcare expenditure at only 3.9% of gross domestic product, is the lowest in the BRICS group.
  2. Private Sector: Health sector has declined more towards the private and this increased role of the private sector.

The Right to Health and Advances in Healthcare Protection:

The Indian Constitution has incorporated the responsibility of the state in ensuring basic nutrition, basic standard of living, public health, protection of workers, special provisions for disabled persons and other health standards, which were described under Articles 39, 41, 42 and 47 in the Directive Principles of state policy. Article 21 of the Constitution of India provides for the right to life and personal liberty and is a fundamental right. Keeping in tune with the universal declaration of human rights and various other developments in the Indian healthcare sector, the judiciary has included the right to health under Article 21. In accordance with the recognition of the fundamental right to health, the Indian Government adv opted a national health policy targeted “health for all” by the year 2000. Although the country couldn’t achieve all the benchmarks by the targeted date, the Government has set a revised date of 2015, by which time it hopes to meet the millennium development goals.

The judiciary, through the process of judicial activism, has transformed the Indian health scenario. The right to health is now a fundamental right; hospitals are included under the purview of the Consumer Protection Act, ensuring timely and emergency care for patients in all hospitals and actions are taken against cases of negligence. The legislature has also introduced acts like the Transplantation of Human Organs Act, Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques Act, Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act and others to improve healthcare. The media has also played an important role, by bringing the problems of the healthcare sector to the attention of Government authorities.


Economic view of our health sector:

The industry is growing at a tremendous pace owing to its strengthening coverage, services and increasing expenditure by public as well private players.

  • The hospital industry in India, accounting for 80% of the total healthcare market, is witnessing a huge investor demand from both global as well as domestic investors. The hospital industry is expected to reach $132 bn by 2023 from $ 61.8 bn in 2017; growing at a CAGR of 16-17%.
  • The Indian Medical Tourism market is expected to grow from its current size of $3 bn to $7-8 bn by 2020
  • The diagnostics industry in India is currently valued at $4 bn. The share of organized sector is almost 25% in this segment (15% in labs and 10% in radiology).
  • The primary care industry is currently valued at $13 bn. The share of organized sector is practically negligible in this case.


Insurance in the Health Sector:

Since development is a consequence of good health,even the poorest developing countries should make it a priority to invest in heath sector. Unfortunately, health has been poorly invested in by countries with low human development, and the health sector still remains largely untapped and continues to suffer neglect. Most developed countries have a widespread insurance network in the healthcare sector. They are fully aware of the importance of health insurance and its benefits. But, in India, the insurance industry is now picking up. The percentage of the Indian population having health insurance policies is very low, and there are very few companies offering insurance in the healthcare sector. Nonetheless, it is expected that insurance will play a major role in the Indian healthcare system in the near future.


India has made striking progress in health standards in the post-independence era. Still, many feels that the budgetary resources for the health sector should be increased.India will be the most populous country in the world by 2030, and nearly 200 million Indians will be at least 60 years of age by 2025. However, the growing elderly population is placing an enormous burden on the healthcare system. Urbanization has, also, led to stress on public infrastructure with the rise in communicable and lifestyle diseases. India needs to focus more on framing of the policies in terms of building capacity of existing human resources, enhancing further allocation of finances dedicated toward proper medical care to everyone, identifying areas through operational research, which can enhance quantity and quality of care for each and everyone in India. There should be proper knowledge of health and various awareness programs should be conducted in order to awake people so that they can get maximum benefit. The number of doctors and nurses should be increased in public sector so that there’s no delay in the treatment of patients. In rural areas the condition of hospitals is still bad so it should be taken in consideration by government.  Public hospitals face a lot of difficulties such as lack of infrastructure, medication, proper treatment etc both in rural as well as urban area.

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