Private sector expansion won’t better health indicators: Azad

March 23rd, 2010 - 9:48 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, March 23 (IANS) The private sector has grown well in India, but its expansion will not better the health indicators in the country, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said Tuesday explaining the necessity for increased allocation in the field.
“Notwithstanding the tremendous contribution of the private sector in addressing the huge demand for services, the problems being faced in the health sector will not decrease with the further expansion of the private sector,” Azad said at a planning commission conference here.

The presence of private sector in rural areas is negligible, in the northern states, hilly states and northeastern states leaving a wide supply gap where rural areas have to increasingly depend upon public facilities to access health services.

Azad also said that private sector hospitals treat lesser number of people but have a large chunk of the human force.

“It is estimated that 75 percent of human resources, 68 percent of hospitals and 37 percent of total bed capacity is in the private sector,” he informed.

The poor and the lower middle class strata of our society require state intervention to provide them protection against high cost of medical care. In the absence of such an option, it is seen that private healthcare costs have had a devastating impact on household incomes.”

“Instead, there is an urgent need to strengthen the public sector in order to bring in equity and efficiency in the health system.”

“With almost one-third of the population still below the poverty line, high levels of illiteracy and malnutrition, the role of the public sector is not only relevant but essential, for providing medical treatment to the poor,” the minister added.

He said: “India is one of the five countries in the world, which has almost 80 percent health spending incurred by households as compared to not more than 20 to 50 percent in developed countries. Likewise, the public investment in most countries is more than 3 percent to 10 percent of the GDP while it is about 1 percent in India.”

The minister also said that even as India is aspiring for a healthy population, “we are aware of the massive challenges that we are facing today in the health sector. Though we are improving our economic indices, yet, we continue to be one of the largest contributors of disease burden in the world.”

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