Health for All, Challenges & Solutions

Universal health coverage: Everyone, Everywhere.

 

As the theme of World Health Day 2018, WHO declared the mission of “Universal health coverage: Everyone, Everywhere” and a slogan “Health for all”. As we are celebrating the day, let’s get a bit deeper into the challenges, solutions and achievements we are facing delivering people an universal access to healthcare.

 

Health, being the most important aspect of life, is still one of the most neglected segment in our lifestyle. Where more than half of the global population lack access to essential healthcare services, a developing country like India contributes a fair share to the fact. As India spends only 4.2% of its GDP towards public healthcare, the term “Universal Health Coverage” seems like a dream of distant future.

What does it mean, ‘Health for all’?

Though our average life expectancy has grown significantly by numbers, our access to basic healthcare has shown no such numerical or practical growth. With only 01 govt. doctor for every 10,189 people, 01 govt. hospital bed for every 2,046 people and only 01 govt. hospital for every 90,343 people the lack of accessibility is absolutely transparent.

“Health for all” has therefore been our guiding vision for more than seven decades. It’s also the impetus behind the current organization-wide drive to support countries in moving towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC). – WHO (World Health Organisation)

 

Health for all is not a mere wish. It’s a necessity, a crucial part of any civilisation. It is a certain set of tried & tested plans, their executions along with spread of awareness through information and education.

Why is ‘Universal Health Coverage’ so important?

At the core of any human being is his or her health. A nation or a civilisation can neither progress nor develop without a serious outlook for healthcare. Despite Indian constitution guarantees free healthcare for all its citizens, access to basic healthcare for most of its rural parts (more than 70% of population) merely make any numbers.

World Health Day will shine a spotlight on the need for UHC – and the advantages it can bring. WHO and its partners will share examples of steps to take to get there through a series of events and conversations held at multiple levels. – WHO (World Health Organisation)

What are the challenges?

The countries claim themselves as ‘Developed’ are still lacking the initiatives. So, what are the challenges for a developing country like ours?

Financial Challenges.

In India, as high as 86% of rural population and 82% of urban population were still not covered under any scheme, public or private, to support health expenditure. Globally 800 million people spend at least 10 percent of their household budgets on health expenses for themselves, a sick child or other family member. For almost 100 million people these expenses are high enough to push them into extreme poverty.

Infrastructural Challenges.

With only 01 govt. doctor for every 10,189 people, 01 govt. hospital bed for every 2,046 people and only 01 govt. hospital for every 90,343 people, infrastructural deficiencies are quite exposed. Even in private healthcare sector, quality terminal healthcare facilities are outnumbered against requirement. A famous cardio-thoracic surgeon and leading philanthropist in the field of healthcare said only 8% of the people needing cardiac surgery actually get operated.

Geographical Challenges.

In a geographically diverse country like India, it is quite understood that every facility cannot be practically delivered to every corner of the land. Having said the, healthcare is not just another facility. It’s a necessity. Statistically, there are only 2% doctors are in rural India, where more than 70% of the population lives. Full immunization coverage also varies between rural and urban India, with 39% completely immunized in rural communities and 58% in urban areas across India.

Social Challenges.

Even after all these challenges, one of the most demoralizing challenge is the unawareness of the population. Immunization drive like Polio Immunization has faced backlash due to public unawareness. Superstitions still play a major role blocking healthcare facilities. Inequalities in healthcare even results from factors such as socioeconomic status and caste, with caste serving as a social determinant of healthcare in India.

How to address the issues preventing the universal access to healthcare?

These challenges does not have to perform a key role in achieving ‘Universal Access to Healthcare’ if we take our responsibilities a bit more seriously with a bit more sensibility.

Public Awareness.

As supply follows demand, general awareness for the need of basic healthcare will definitely put some leverage towards the development of healthcare service in India. Informational awareness, along with education will help us to win against all the social challenges.

Infrastructural Development.

Skill and education both play a key role in healthcare. But when skill and education comes with sensibility, together can change the entire fate and face of the sector. Proper planning for distribution of healthcare infrastructure along with leverage on uninterrupted service management will surely be work as a key factor to the development of universal access to healthcare.

Economic Reformation.

India spends more than 17.24% of its union budget towards defence, 3.8% to home affairs, and only 1.92% towards healthcare. As a country we definitely need more economic support towards healthcare. Or else it will stay deprived for maybe another century.

“As per the GOQii India Fit 2018 report, 92.3% of citizens do not trust the healthcare system in India, which includes doctors, hospitals, pharma, insurance companies and diagnostic labs,”

 

These are only an overview of our solutions. If we really have to get to root and rip off the devil, we all will have to step ahead and address the issues one by one. A distributed responsibility will definitely help resolving the complexities faster.

 Government Initiatives.

Educational and economical challenges require a massive entity to handle. Government initiatives with political will can be seriously effective.

Corporate Initiatives.

Corporates already take their part through CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) as when it comes to funds, more the merrier. Stepping ahead with thorough distribution of infrastructure, especially by the corporates or organisations operating in the similar industries can prove to be effective.

Personal Level Initiatives.

Above all the initiatives, charity begins at home. If we all as citizens take part in our own responsibilities of awareness and sensible behaviour, we together can create a better future.

Positive results? Let’s review the recent changes in healthcare services in Kolkata, our own city, for example.

 

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