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India ranks below Lanka, Bangladesh on healthcare index

The Times of India, May 17, 2017

The article looks at India’s ranking on the healthcare index based on death rates from 32 diseases. Citing the new Global Burden of Disease study published in Lancet, the article points out that India’s rank of 154 is much below China, Sri Lanka and even Bangladesh in terms of quality and accessibility of healthcare. It argues that India’s socio-economic development notwithstanding, the country has failed to achieve its healthcare goals.

THE PROBLEM

The article reports an evaluation of India’s overall performance based on the gap between the predicted and achieved goals over a span of 25 years. But India’s recent advancements in the field of medicine and its current achievements have not been taken into account.

THE FACTS

  • India’s score has jumped from 30.7 in 1990 to 44.8 in 2015, indicating a rise, however slow
  • Injectable Polio Vaccine (IPV), Rotavirus Vaccine (RVV) and Measles-Rubella (MR) vaccine have been introduced and the scale-up of the Japanese Encephalitis (JE) vaccine has been done through India’s Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP) in the last two years
  • Rotavirus vaccine has been developed in India and it has the potential to save close to 80,000 children from rotavirus diarrhoea
  • Pneumonia is currently being combatted by the Haemophilus Influenzae Type B (Hib) vaccine, part of the pentavalent vaccine
  • Mission Indradhanush (MI) was conceived in 2014, with the aim of reaching all those children who are un-immunised or partially immunised
  • MI includes vaccines for 11 diseases and aims to reach more than 90% full immunisation coverage among Indian children by 2020
  • After its three phases, 2.1 crore children and 55.9 lakh pregnant women have been vaccinated
  • Process of establishing 11 new AIIMS in addition to 6 already newly established ones has begun
  • Super specialty blocks are being set up in 70 medical colleges
  • Ceiling prices have also been fixed and notified for Coronary Stents to Rs 7,260 for ‘Bare Metal Stents’ and Rs 29,600 for ‘Drug Eluting Stents’ (DES) including metallic DES and Biodegradable Stents, leading to reduction in stent prices by up to 85%
  • Budget allocation for MoHFW increased by 27% in Union Budget 2017
  • National Health Portal (NHP) launched to serve as a single-point access for consolidated health information for citizens

The ranking looks at the performance of each country in healthcare, based on the death rate due to certain diseases, in the course of 25 years. However, the article leaves out the advancements and improvements that have recently taken place. Along with these health reforms and discoveries and advancements in the field of medicine, India is also working towards setting up access platforms such as Swasth Bharat Mobile Application and Mera Aspataal.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • India’s score jumped from 30.7 in 1990 to 44.8 in 2015
  • IPV, RVV and Measles-Rubella (MR) vaccine introduced
  • Scale-up of Japanese Encephalitis (JE) vaccine by UIP in last two years
  • RVV has potential to save 80,000 children from rotavirus diarrhoea
  • Mission Indradhanush to reach all un-immunised/ partially immunised children
  • MI includes vaccines for 11 diseases
  • MI aims more than 90% full immunisation coverage by 2020
  • 1 crore children & 55.9 lakh pregnant women vaccinated
  • 11 new AIIMS in addition to 6 newly established ones
  • MoHFW Budget allocation increased by 27%
  • National Health Portal launched

The detailed process of coming up with more innovative ways of treatment as well as making it more accessible to citizens has been a recent achievement of India’s healthcare sector. It will not be wrong to say that a plan and implementation on this scale will need a longer timeframe for an accurate evaluation.

ADDITIONAL FACTS

  • Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP), Central Bureau of Health Intelligence (CBHI), and similar research and data sources provide the health ministry with the disease map of the country
  • National Technical Advisory Group (NTAGI) is the body that collates and studies this data to finally pass it on to the Mission Steering Group (MSG)
  • Thereafter, changes are made in health policies, such as introduction of a new vaccine
  • India is working towards leveraging partnerships with R&D partners like WHO, UNICEF, UNDP and others to achieve its mission of a healthy nation
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