India’s President Pranab Mukherjee called for more budget for a healthcare system, which is universally accessible, affordable and effective, as it is “crucial for a developing country like India.”
Inaugurating the Mid-Term Meet 2015 of the National Interventional Council of the Cardiological Society of India on Saturday in New Delhi, the President, who was also finance minister in several Congress governments from the days of Indira Gandhi, was vocal about the country’s healthcare needs.
President Mukherjee said, “We require robust healthcare infrastructure, trained and motivated personnel, and better access to medicines and equipments,” summing up the huge demand before the nation’s health sector.
India has 7 hospital beds per 10,000 population, compared to 23 in Brazil, 38 in China and 97 in Russia. “In terms of healthcare professionals, we again lag behind the other BRIC countries,” pointed out the President.
There are 7 physicians per 10,000 population in India, compared to 19 in Brazil, 15 in China and 43 in Russia. Though schemes like the National Health Mission have improved service delivery, health services in India still suffer from lack of reach and constraints of quality, he noted.
The President said India’s public expenditure on health is meagre. India’s per capita government expenditure on health in PPP terms is US $44, as against $809 in Russia, $474 in Brazil and $236 in China. “Considering that we are a sixth of humanity, a significant rise in health expenditure is urgently required to ensure universal health coverage,” said the President.
Focusing on health insurance mechanism, he noted that 216 million people in India or 17 percent of the population were covered under various health insurance schemes as of March 2014, leaving much bigger coverage desired.
“Good health and fitness of the people will truly be a reflection of our country’s progress,” he said.