While we continue to brag about eradicating diseases such as polio from the country, we have yet to find remedies to cancer and other diseases like swine flu. Women’s health, malnutrition and child mortality continue to haunt us till date. Keeping in mind all this, we can say the health of India is in intensive care unit.
In an attempt to find out solutions to major health problems facing the country, Bharat Bhagya Vidhata show, ‘Ek Nari Aisi Bhi’, discussed the issue with some of the best health experts in the country. On the panel were Dr Syeda Hameed, Member of Planning Commission, Dr Sunil Gupta, renowned haemato-medical oncologist from Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute & Research Centre, Dr Shikha Sharma, a nutritionist from Nutri Health Systems, and Jaspal Kaur, Counselor & Trainer at CanSupport.
Dr Sunil Gupta felt that population explosion is the cause behind a weakened health system. “Medical facilities provided in Delhi should be available in each and every district of the country. State governments must initiate the policy of training specialists and then deploy them in various zones. Young doctors must choose rural areas for providing health services,” said Dr Gupta. He appreciated certain facilities provided by the Rajeev Gandhi Cancer Institute, where BPL families can avail treatment at a nominal cost of Rs 5.
Dr Syeda, meanwhile, was questioned 1% allocation from the Plan expenditure for health. She said, “National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) has come a long way. NRHM has tried to bring focus on living and working conditions, sanitation and hygiene, mother and child development, and social health. Apart from this we must not forget the ‘Indian cure’ to our health problems, i.e. Ayurveda, Homeopathy and Yoga.”
Dr Shikha, however, suggested that some common features of health models, namely commitment, fund allocation, audit control, should be supplemented with new mechanisms. “The real reasons behind malnutrition, women and child health, child mortality need to be found out. The basics of the models need revision.”
Speaking about women’s health, Dr Shikha added that it is the women themselves who are responsible for their condition. “They are taught to remain quiet and suffer. As a result, the illness are discovered very late. Such mentalities need to be changed,” she said.
“Cancer treatment is a financial burden. Unlike several private hospitals, when a cure for the disease does not seem possible we provide the patients with care,” said Jaspal Kaur, counselor and trainer at CanSupport. The organization deals with the psycho-social spectrum of cancer patients. She also advised that more funds should be invested in the health sector to see positive outcomes.
Dr Syeda, however, felt that private hospitals do not commit to the facilities. Out of the 1.3 billion population, only 24.30% of people account for health insurance policies. Apart from the visible illnesses, we also need to combat the invisible sickness of depression, anxiety and schizophrenia, she said. In such circumstances our population, medical centers’ and government will have to join hands. “There is no lack of efficient policies, but we lack their implementation,” said Dr Syeda.
In her closing arguments, Dr Shikha Sharma advised that commitment from medical centers can go a long way in health management.
Dr Syeda, on the other hand, recommended public-private partnership with people’s awareness for the immunization.
Jaspal Kaur noted, “Such NGOs which work for the health betterment of the society must be encouraged by the government and people.”