`Expensive healthcare pushing Indians into poverty`

Last Updated: Tuesday, November 1, 2011 - 19:25

New Delhi: Rising cost of diagnosis, medicines and hospitalisation will push millions of Indians below the poverty line, an official of the World Health Organisation (WHO) said Tuesday.

According to WHO regional advisor Kathleen A. Halloway, a majority of Indians spend around 70 percent of their income on medicines and healthcare, compared to 30-40 percent in other Asian countries like Sri Lanka.

"The problem is that they still suffer from the infected diseases in the absence of best quality of drugs and healthcare facilities. Due to out-of-pocket spending of their income in medicines and healthcare services, about 3.2 percent of India`s population will fall below the poverty line (BPL)," Halloway said at a conference organised by the Delhi Society for Promotion of Rational Use of Drugs (DSPRUD) and WHO here.

According to a survey by the Indian Institute of Population Sciences and WHO in six states, more than 40 percent of low-income families in India have to borrow money from outside the family to meet their healthcare costs.

The study found that 16 percent families had been pushed below the poverty line by this trend.

While spending has been soaring, experts said the issue of poor quality healthcare remains neglected.

"MCI (Medical Council of India) has received many complaints on the side-effects of drugs prescribed by doctors. Since there is less awareness among rural community about the medical council, majority of complaints received are from cities only," said MCI secretary Sangeeta Sharma.

Public hospitals in the country have grievance redressal committees in place, but not many people know about approaching the MCI, Sharma added.

IANS




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