India is third largest economy in the world in terms of purchasing power parity but what about the position of the India in healthcare access to its citizens? Economically sound country can have their citizens better health care facilities?. A sound economy is necessary for the growth of the country but it can augment better when healthy citizens contribute to GDP of the country. From the times of Nehru, We concentrated more on strengthening steel and manufacturing industries practicably absent in health and education, leaving to private sector. Socialistic measures taken by all governments till to date are more or less oriented towards building up the economy of the country without constructive measures to build heath care. In post world war II , Japan, completely devastated and war torn country started from scrap became one of the leading economies by mid 80’s, not only investing in industrial capital but also on human capital like health and education. So by improving quality of life we can enhance the economic development but there are less chances for the vice versa. Even it is true in Indian context, when we take the case of Kerala which invested in human capital having high literacy rate, life expectancy and low infant mortality rate. Kerala once having a poor economy now transformed in to state with highest disposable income per capita in India
Governmental share of health care in India as a percentage of total health expenditure is one of the three lowest in the world. We are in the company of Haiti and Sierra Leone. We spend 1 percent of GDP while China spends close to 3 per cent and US spends 8.4 percent of their GDP. India is having a poor performance in various healthcare indicators like infant mortality rate, maternal mortality rate etc very low when compared to various south Asian countries like Srilanka, Bangladesh and BRICS countries. There are surplus of government schemes but failing utterly in providing primary health care facilities to citizens of India and reality is most of health care in India is privately funded. India’s awful performance in the HDI with 135 rank is mainly contributed by its low performance in healthcare indicators. To a country like India with more than 22 percent of population living below poverty line, catastrophic health expenditures by citizens further deteriorate there living conditions. So there should be effective and affordable universal coverage and health care insurance to be provided to all Indians
India took constructive steps to provide basic education to children by making right to education as a fundamental right by 86 constitutional amendment act of 2002, added article 21-A of the constitution, but heath doesn’t acquired any constitutional status. But Supreme court in various cases like Consumer Education and Resource Centre Vs Union of India, State of Punjab Vs Mohinder Singh held that right to health is essential for human existence and therefore, an integral part of the Right to Life, and It also held in these judgments that humane working conditions and health services and medical care are an essential part of Article 21. The Constitution of India also has provisions outlined in Directive Principles of State Policy, Articles 42 and 47 which promote citizens right to health but these are moral obligation on the state and cannot be enforceable in court of law like fundamental rights.
Traditional notion of access to healthcare is individual centric like access to medical treatment, medicines but there should be a wider interpretation of promotion of health at society level like clean living environment, protections against hazardous working conditions, education about disease prevention and social security measures in respect of disability, sickness and injury. Special emphasis is laid on elements such as women’s reproductive health and the healthcare of children. But public health sector in India is at nascent stage without any special emphasis from government and academic circles for constructive research in those areas. I want to be critical at his point, advance research in health care areas like molecular biology, nanotechnology etc are necessary but when more than half of the population of the India does not have access to primary health care facilities, what is the need for pouring millions of money in the name of scientific research which does not have any effect on the lives of common man. Present rightist Modi government spending more budgetary expenditure on defence in the name of modernizing it, but then what is the doom of living conditions of 1.2 billion Indians by the slashing the health care expenditure which is already one of the world’s lowest.
There is need for right to health as fundamental right like that of, right to food through food security act and right to work through MGNREGA, which is fundamental and will have complimentary effects on education, employment, economy and living conditions of the people.