HEALTH — NOT A PRIORITY AGENDA FOR INDIA

by Dr. P K Goswami

When the present government came to power there was widespread euphoria and media hype leading to mass dreaming for a better life in India. An assessment report brought out by media as well as other political and civil society organisations revealed relative non-performance of the Administration on all fronts with particular reference to Health. India could not achieve Millennium Development Goal (MGD) laid down by United Nations by 2015. To state a few health indicators – like Women’s Health, Maternal Mortality Rate, Infant and Child Mortality Rate still higher than our neighbouring countries like Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Both communicable diseases and non-communicable diseases are rising by leaps and bounds in India. To state a few like tuberculosis – which affect the largest number of people in the country. “TB is a major health problem which afflicts mainly the young and working population of our country. It is unfortunate that in India even today one person dies every two minutes due to this menacing disease,” President Pranab Mukherjee had said in a statement to mark World Tuberculosis Day. Other central Health Initiatives take National Health Mission (NHM) and other programmes like revamped ICDS (Integrated Child Development Scheme) are poorly implemented as Government of India has slashed Health budget for states to 17 percent allowing them to decide their health budget and prioritise health program which is a welcome approach. But it seems that the states are not ready for this change as they need clarity and hand holding by the centre before this change is presented and hence Health being so vital for a country’s overall development would be severely affected. Government of India should look at all the states objectively looking at health indicators and resources available before dispensing the states of Central Funding. For example, states like Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Assam could be priority states to be supported by central funds as their Health Indicators and resources both needs improvement. Similarly Southern states like Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka needs little financial support but needs technological support. But at the end of the day Central Government have to take up the role of the leader and continue supporting State Governments till they are self-dependent. India being a young country with half the population in the age group of 0 – 35 years would not be able to benefit from the Demographic dividend as children, adolescents and young people of the country’s health are being compromised. This is a tragedy that shattered the dreams of a country with 1.3 billion people.


About the Author


Dr. P K Goswami