Stations to be classified on waste water output-THE HINDU-11-06-2020


A news channel in India alleged recently that several private hospitals in the country were “exposed” by a “sting operation” to be levying fees in excess when COVID-19 patients went to them for care. Anyone who has had major surgery or received intensive care in any of the hospitals can testify to that. The debate now is whether such exorbitant rates are justified during a pandemic such as the one we are in the midst of , or indeed, ever.

A mirror to public care:

Since Independence, India has, quite rightly, focused attention on the larger picture. We have done this well, resulting in impressive improvements in many health-care indices in the last few decades. However, not enough hospital beds and specialised facilities were provided by the public sector during this time. At the same time, the burgeoning middle class and increasing wealth produced an explosion in the demand for good quality health care.

Private medicine was quick to capitalise on this demand. The second reason for the dominance of private medicine in India is the lack of adequate investment in public health. The Indian government spends an abysmally low 1.3% of GDP on public health care, which is woefully inadequate. Specialists should be adequately compensated to obviate their need for private practice.

Private medicine in India is by no means uniform. Most of them provide basic health care, charging a modest fee. These are often set up in metro cities at huge cost and have successfully engineered a reverse brain drain of many specialists from pursuing lucrative jobs abroad and staying back in or returning to India. Between the two extremes are a large number of private practitioners and institutions providing a wide range of services of varying quality.

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