“It may seem a strange principle to enunciate as the very first requirement in a hospital that it should do the sick no harm.”

– FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE

Gone are the times when healthcare system only consisted of two entities – the patient and his doctor. Today’s healthcare ecosystem consists of doctors (general and specialized), nursing staff, clinical staff, pathology laboratories, pharmacies, diagnostic centres, pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors as well as clinics and hospitals. The current healthcare system also includes healthcare insurers – companies and organisations that reimburse healthcare expenses to the insured.

India is the sought-after destination for medical treatments owing to its cost-effective treatments and start-of-art medical facilities available in private hospitals. According to the ministry of tourism, India hosted 6.9% of medical tourists from the total tourist arrivals in the year 2019. The Indian medical tourism sector is estimated to be worth 5 – 6 billion USD. And yet when it comes to its own people, the Indian healthcare ecosystem is lagging in many aspects.

The huge difference in the healthcare quality of rural vs. urban areas, the low number of healthcare institutions, the low doctor-patient ratio, the less than adequate clinical staff; these are the basic breaches In//dia needs to work on to balance the healthcare ecosystem scale.

Neglecting Rural Areas: This one of the major pain-point in the betterment of healthcare ecosystem. Over 65% of Indian population resides in the rural parts of India and only 35% is based in urban localities. The rural areas are virtually underdeveloped. Lack of basic infrastructure, connectivity in terms of roads and transportation, technological shortcomings, lack of medical facilities all lead to a dearth of trained staff and doctors. After the effort put in to be a doctor, nurse, these qualified individuals opt for urban areas to provide their services. The Government of India needs to provide quick, workable solutions so that qualified professionals do not hesitate to work in rural areas.

Lack of Transparency: With the involvement of other industries in the healthcare ecosystem, the sector has become a business industry rather than a healthcare unit. Every organization; hospitals, insurance companies, pharmacies, diagnostic centres; has developed a transitory system where each one scratches the other’s back until the circle is complete. A complete overhaul in the work process where each entity gains more credibility based on transparency, responsibility and accountability will definitely tip the scales in the healthcare system’s favour.

Lack of cost-effective treatments: The healthcare centres in rural areas offer free services to the ailing. But these are restricted only to the basic or seasonal ailments. The public healthcare centres lack the high-end medical infrastructure necessary for the diagnosis and treatment of critical ailments. These treatments are available at private hospitals which are located only in the urban areas. Private hospitals do have the infrastructure needed for critical ailments, but the astronomical costs of such treatments become a deterrent. Advanced treatments based on technological advancement at an affordable price is the need of the hour.

Lack of trained personnel: India has the 2nd largest population of the world and is soon expected to top the list. With the kind of population India has, the number of doctors and other skilled medical professionals are not enough to handle the nation’s healthcare sector. There’s only 1 doctor against 1456 patients in India, as per a survey. According to WHO this ratio should be 1:1000. To decrease this gap Government needs to increase the student capacity of medical colleges across India, as a quick fix. And then gradually increase the number of medical training institutions that will help in covering the existing deficit.

Healthcare Spending: Improved and increased infrastructure like medical equipment, modern technology, hospitals, healthcare professionals leads to a better healthcare system. India’s healthcare spending is about 3.5% of its GDP. Increasing the nation’s spending capacity in medical sector will definitely boost its healthcare system. Although money alone cannot help. Better healthcare starts at grass root level. From individuals who value better health over other aspects. Every citizen inherently needs to inculcate the habit of practicing fitness over emergencies. Government needs to emphasize upon its citizen the benefits of being fit through influential programs and movements. Working on the principle of prevention is always better than cure, It needs to implement more “Fit India” movements to motivate individuals. This will lead to a better healthcare ecosystem as a country whose health index gets better every day.

Let’s not forget that

“Modern medicine is a negation of health. It isn’t organized to serve human health, but only itself, as an institution. It makes more people sick than it heals.”

– IVAN ILLICH

About the author : soumadeep

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