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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Rx: Accessible, Accountable, Affordable Health Care

A close relative had been  admitted to  the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi , and it was my 'turn' to be on  duty   that day. In my brisk walk towards the building that houses the private rooms I passed the general O.P.D ward. It was 8.20 in the morning of  what promised to be a scorcher of a day ,the sun beating down on a queue that went all the way back till  it found that that there was no inch left to go more back and then it snaked its way to the front in an untidy U. The line didn't, couldn't  have, stop there. It   formed  more U's and even as I walked past people were materialising out of the humidity to stand in patient perspiring silence.

For the past one week one has been watching a blitzkrieg of publicity for the 365 days of the BJP government.While salesmanship and one upmanship are par for the course for governments in power it would make better sense if the same governments had something concrete to show for  basic  rights.What are these basic, fundamental rights? I am sure most of us will agree that what we as citizens count as basic rights  are: health, education, affordable food and security. Yes, relations with neighbors,with the European Union, with Barack, Merkel et al are also important  and not to be scoffed at but dear prime minister, could  you please first  ensure health care that is accessible to all? I know that treatment in government hospitals/ clinics/ dispensaries is almost free but what use of this free  treatment when it is not immediately accessible and is of quality which is suspect?

Some pointers from a housewife:
  1. Adopt a health coverage system which provides equity in  health facilities, services and in delivery.
  2. Increase funding for public health programmes
  3. Regulate private sector health care
  4. Develop a  framework for  better quality healthcare  across the country.(  This on an  S.O.S basis)
  5. Work in tandem with the state governments so that  quality health care  is available across the country. Make the cliche from Kashmir to Kanyakumari  come true in the case of health care.
  6.   I know we have a humungous population and are cash strapped. Modi ji, you have a marvellous rapport ,well documented and well publicized , with  NRI's across the globe. How about tapping them for a wee bit of contribution towards the health sector of the country of their origin? I am sure they will oblige happily and that money can go a long way towards making Bharat more swasth.
    Also,  for most of us Sardar Patel is an iconic figure. He was a towering personality and stands second to none in terms of his contribution to Indian polity. That he needs to be honored, venerated and remembered is right . However, can we not remember him by building clinics in his name across the country? The country , private and public sector, is slated to spend 500 crores + on a  statue for Sardar Patel. I am sure that the great man himself would have preferred if this money was spent in providing better health facilities to the people of the country he loved and worked for.

    Today more than ever before, India stands at the  crossroads. If anyone can do something about lifting our country out of the mess it is in  then it is Narendra Damodardas Modi. He seems to  have the will, the intent and of course the mandate. Please, Mr Modi, give us this day a health care system that actually cares for us. A system that doesn't make us wait for hours under a blinding sun; a system that doesn't rip us off and a system that is accountable .


  1. Anju ji, a few points. Firstly, Delhi government has promised to build more hospitals. They are busy doing something else.
    Prime minister is visiting abroad to bring investment in India. To link that to long queue in AIIMS is akin to Charan Singh banning Asian Games because Indians go hungry.
    Finally, for AIIMS to decongest, India needs to build many hospitals and man them with high quality doctors. Most government hospitals are dirty and unusable, unless you have private ward, because unionised employees are unwilling to work. Administrators cannot control them.
    Private hospitals are clean but unaffordable unless one is covered by insurance.
    Most of us send out kids abroad to practice medicine or they open clinic in cities. Because villages are not liveable. India must decongest cities, and built facilities in villages and towns so that people do not throng at AIIMS and likes.