Our country, especially the media and the politicians (perhaps not so much the ‘Aam Aadmi’), appears to be totally engrossed now in uprooting the issue of corruption from the soil of India, once and for all. Politicians of all hues are not showing any sign of respite to let go this opportunity, without squeezing out the last drop of ‘political elixir’, out of the current high level of self-created cynicism. This is very important for them in the run-up to the next general and state elections for ultimate win in the political power-game. The ‘common man’, like you and me, on the contrary, is perhaps thinking about job creation, financial progress, infrastructure development, education and health.
The Fourth Estate of the country, especially the Electronic Media, seems to be lapping up any news, which could even remotely help the TRPs of their respective news channels going north.
In a chaotic situation like this, when even the country’s parliament is defunct, it appears, by and large the entire nation is currently being encouraged to get deeply engaged in ‘self-flagellation’, as it were. There seems to be a desperate need to prove to the world, time and again, how bad the Indians are. The ‘Brand India’ after taking so many powerful blows on its chin, is in tears now.
Be that as it may, has India achieved anything in the year 2010 with a public spend of just around 1% of the GDP towards healthcare? Let me try to capture some of those hard facts, which could appear as a laundry list though, at the very onset of the brand New Year. I have collated these details from various published sources.
Some doomsayers with ever ‘pontifying’ mind-set would nevertheless keep brushing all these aside. However, acknowledging these achievements, I would rather say, “all these are too little even for too few”.
Whatever it is, I am trying to put these details in one place for a comprehensive record of the year, just gone by.
Here it goes:
I. Healthcare Indicators:
I. The number of polio cases has sharply declined during the year. Only 41 polio cases have been reported as on November 30, 2010, against 633 in the corresponding period of 2009.
II. Adult HIV prevalence has declined from 0.41% in 2000 to 0.31% in 2009. The number of new annual HIV infections has declined by more than 50% from 2000 to 2010.(Source: National AIDS Control Organization )
III. Leprosy Prevalence Rate has declined to 0.71/10,000 in March, 2010. 32 State/UTs have achieved elimination by March 2010, leaving only Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Dadra & Nagar Haveli.
IV.TB mortality in has gone down from over 42/lakh population in 1990 to 23/lakh population in 2009 as per the WHO global report 2010. The prevalence of the disease in the country has reduced from 338/lakh population in 1990 to 249/lakh population by the year 2009 (Source: WHO global TB report, 2010).
II. New Initiatives:
- A bivalent oral polio vaccine (bOPV) was launched in the country in Bihar on January 9, 2010.
- A ‘Sports Injury Centre’ was dedicated to the nation at the Safdarjung Hospital, Delhi, with an inpatient capacity of 35 beds with all modern facilities.
- The Indian Pharmacopeia Commission published the 2010 version of Indian Pharmacopeia.
- Upgradation of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Delhi with an estimated cost of Rs 382.41. Crore.
- A scheme to support the State Government Medical Colleges for conducting paramedical courses with a total proposed project cost of Rs.1156.43 Crore.
- Setting up of 132 Auxiliary Nurse Midwives training schools at an estimated cost of Rs.5.00 Crores per school and 137 General Nursing and Midwifery training schools at an estimated cost of Rs.10.00 Crores per school.
- Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Ministry of Railways signed a memorandum of Understanding for development of healthcare infrastructure along the railway network of the country.
- A new ‘National Program for Health Care of the Elderly’ (NPHCE) was approved with an outlay of Rs. 288.00 Crore for 2010-11 & 2011-12.
- Urban Slum Health Check-up Scheme for Diabetes and Blood pressure was launched in New Delhi on November 14, 2010. Pilot project is in progress in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai and Ahmedabad.
- The revised National Program for Prevention & Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke (NPCDCS) was approved with a budgetary provision of Rs. 1230.90 Crore
- Under Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS), a pilot project of a standalone hemodialysis center has started at Sadiq Nagar CGHS Wellness center in collaboration with M/S Alliance Medicorp (India) Limited, Chennai, under Public Private Partnership (PPP).
III. National Rural Health Mission (NRHM)
- Healthcare Infrastructure:
I. New construction and upgradation of 433 District Hospitals, 2921 Community Health Centers (CHCs), 4165 Primary Health Centers (PHCs) and 11856 Health Sub-Centers.
II. 9120 PHCs became functional for 24 hours, as compared to only 1262 in 2005.
- III. 2426 health facilities which include District Hospitals, Sub-District Hospitals and Community Health Centers started functioning as First Referral Units (FRUs) as compared to 955 in 2005.
- IV. 1653 Mobile Medical Units are operating in different States providing services in the interior areas.
- Human Resource:
I. 2394 Specialists, 8284 MBBS doctors, 9578 AYUSH doctors, 26734 staff nurses, 53552 ANMs and 18272 other Para-medical staff were added to the health system to improve the services.
II. Over 8.33 lakh trained ASHA/community workers were engaged to link the households with the health facility.
3. Healthcare System:
I. State and District Health Societies were set up in all the States and Union Territories (UTs).
- II. Planning capacity at the district level was strengthened and Integrated District Health Action Plan prepared by 540 districts.
4. Community Engagement:
Effective and efficient decentralized management of health system is being achieved through communalization of facilities, adequate and flexible financing with community accountability, monitoring progress against Indian Public Health Standards, innovations in human resources, together with engagement and building of capacity at all levels.
I. 29904 ‘Rogi Kalyan Samitis’ were registered in the health facilities up to PHC level.
- II. 4.93 lakh Village Health and Sanitation Committees (VHSCs) were constituted and 4.82 lakh joint accounts at the Village Health and Sanitation Committees and Health Sub-Centers were opened.
- III. 23.61 million Village Health & Nutrition Days were held at village level over the last three years to provide immunization, maternal and child healthcare and other public health related services at ‘Anganwadi’ centers.
5. Service Delivery:
I. Under the ‘Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY)’, which is cash transfer scheme to promote institutional delivery, over 100.78 lakh pregnant mothers were covered in 2009-10 as against 7.39 lakh in 2005-06.
- II. 53500 male health workers were hired for all the Sub Health Centers (SHC) in 235 high focus districts for disease control with a total costs of Rs. 385.52 Crores per year.
6. Family Planning:
- I. Fixed day Fixed Place Family Planning Services round the year through PHCs
- II. ‘Santushti’ strategy was implemented through ‘Janasankhya Sthrirata Kosh’, to provide private sector gynecologists and vasectomy surgeons an opportunity to conduct sterilization operations through Public Private Partnership (PPP) initiatives.
7. Disease Control:
- National Tuberculosis Control Program:
I. Treatment success rates increased from 25% to 87% in 2010.
II. Death rates have declined from 29% to 4% in 2010
III. Treatment success rate is now >85% and new sputum positive (NSP) case detection rate is currently more than the global target of 70%.
- The National Program for Control of Blindness started providing financial assistance to NGOs for cataract operations and treatment of other eye diseases.
- 75 districts were added to the National Program for Prevention and Control of Deafness (NPPCD), making it a total of 176 districts of 15 States and 4 UTs. Rs.11.50 Crore has been provided for the current year.
- Phase–I of ‘Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana’ projects commenced with an allocation of Rs 9307.60 Crore.
IV. Healthcare Legislation:
1. The Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill 2010 was introduced in the ‘Lok Sabha’ to give effect to amendments to the IMC Act 1956 by which in certain specified situations Government can dissolve the elected Medical Council and replace it, for a period not exceeding one year with a nominated Board of governors.
2. The “National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences Bangalore Bill, 2010” was introduced in the ‘Rajya Sabha’ to facilitate NIMHANS to develop as an Institute of National Importance on the lines of All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi,
3. The Clinical Establishments (Registration & Regulation) Bill, 2010 was passed by both Houses of Parliament and notified. The Act aims at providing registration & regulation of clinical establishments in the country with a view to prescribing minimum standards of facilities and services.
V. International Cooperation:
- A MoU on the Establishment and Operation of Global Disease Detection (GDD) – India Centre, between National Centre for Disease Control, New Delhi and Centre of Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, USA, was signed during the recent visit of the US President Mr. Barack Obama in November 2010.
- India raised the issue of counterfeit medicines and “urged countries to steer clear from the commercially motivated debates over the ‘counterfeit’ issue which have hampered public health by preventing access to good quality and low cost generic drugs”. As a result WHA adopted a resolution establishing a time limited and result oriented working group on substandard / spurious / falsely-labeled / falsified / counterfeit medical products comprised of and open to all Member States.
VI. Health Research:
I. Draft National Health Research Policy prepared during the year, is being debated across the country.
II. Draft Policy for Knowledge Management Policy for Health – services, education and research prepared and debates completed.
III. Based on guidelines for use of assisted reproductive technologies a draft Bill has been prepared.
IV. Guidelines for management of cancers of buccal mucosa, stomach & cervix has been developed.
My wish-list for 2011:
In my view, the following 5 important issues, if addressed effectively in 2011,could make a significant impact on the Healthcare space of India:
1. Announcement of a robust, reform oriented long overdue pharmaceutical ‘Drug Policy’ in India.
2. More budgetary allocation and a transparent delivery system for the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) and the Rashtriya Bima Yojana (RBY) to improve access to healthcare and ensure inclusive growth in the healthcare sector, covering majority of the population of the country.
- 3. A strong healthcare financing model covering all strata of society to reduce the burden of huge ‘out of pocket’ healthcare expenses and make healthcare more accessible and affordable to all.
- The 2010 ‘World Health Report’ of the ‘World Health Organization (WHO)’ “provided governments of various countries with practical guidance on ways to finance healthcare expenses. Taking evidence from all over the world, the report showed how all countries, rich and poor, can adjust their health financing mechanisms so more people get the healthcare they need.” I reckon, policy makers in India will exert enough efforts in 2011 for speedy implementation of such reform oriented healthcare initiatives in the country in its endeavor to fulfill the long overdue promise – ‘health for all.’
4. Progressive policy and fiscal measures to encourage innovation and pharmaceutical R&D within the country
5. Speedy resolution of all Intellectual Property related disputes through ‘Fast Track IP Courts’ to create appropriate innovation oriented ‘Echo System’ in the country.
All the achievements of the year just gone by, are good… but are these enough? India in its ‘Healthcare Policy’ statement, way back in mid-1980 promised, ‘health for all’ by the year 2000. We are not there, not just yet.
Though the country is trying hard to achieve the ‘Millennium Development Goals (MDG)’ by 2015, as the situation stands today, it appears a remote possibility, in many areas.
Non-communicable diseases are now posing a major threat to the country, significantly increasing the burden of disease. The World Health Organization (WHO) has cautioned that India would be the ‘diabetic capital’ of the world with a population of around 80 million diabetic patients by 2030. Further, the ‘Cardiological Society of India’ predicts that there would be around 100 million cardiac patients in the country by 2020, which roughly works out to be around 60% of the total cardiac patient population of the world.
Keeping all these in view, the achievements made by the country in the year 2010, though should be taken note of… but the moot question still remains, ‘aren’t all these too little even for too few?’
By: Tapan J Ray
Disclaimer: The views/opinions expressed in this article are entirely my own, written in my individual and personal capacity. I do not represent any other person or organization for this opinion.