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India needs to increase spending on healthcare: WHO

Last Updated: Tuesday, May 17, 2011 - 16:49

Geneva: An abysmally low government
spending on health -- at USD 32 per capita -- characterises
the poor state of healthcare in India which is facing a
"double burden" of diseases afflicting both the poor and rich
classes, a new WHO report has warned.

While India`s life expectancy has gone up to 65 years
in 2009, up from 61 years in 2000. Global life expectancy was
still higher at 68 years in 2009 as compared to 64 in 1990.

While per capita health expenditure is about USD 32 in
poor countries, including in India, it is around USD 4590 in
rich countries (more than 140 times).

The high income countries consequently have 10 times
more doctors, 12 times more nurses and midwifes and 30 times
more dentists, the report said.

With steep income disparities, India is also
struggling to tackle a "double-burden" of diseases which
include infectious diseases affecting the poor on the one hand
and chronic lifestyle ailments typical of fast urbanisation on
the other.

The average life expectancy of a male in India is now
63 as compared to 60 a decade ago, while a female lives 66
years, in India, says the report released by the World Health
Organisation ahead of the 64th World Health Assembly here.

"Life expectancy and overall health of Indians has
been impressive notwithstanding high levels maternal and child
mortality, high income disparities, and increasing infectious
and non-communicable (heart diseases, stroke, diabetes and
cancer) diseases," says Colin Mathers, Coordinator of
Mortality and Burden of Disease at WHO.

China, on the other hand, has improved the same to 74
years during the last 10 years. Besides, China`s targeted
health expenditure and growing coverage of health insurance
has made a remarkable dent since 2003, the report said.

India faces high levels of maternal and child
mortality, increasing burden of infectious diseases
particularly among the poor, and growing incidence of
non-communicable diseases in the well-to-do sections of the
middle classes, the report says.

WHO`s latest "World Health Statistics 2011" offers a
graphic account of how nations are spending their funds on
health sector and how they are addressing major diseases. It
calls on governments to spend more in a focused-manner to
avoid the rising mortalities from the infectious diseases that
plague the poor in the society and the so-called
non-communicable diseases of the growing middle classes".

A big part of the problem is due to vast disparities
in health spending between low and high income countries.

The report warns governments grimly, including
India, that they are facing a "double burden of disease".


First Published: Tuesday, May 17, 2011 - 16:49
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