Universal health coverage necessary: Amartya Sen

Written by PTI | kolkata | Updated: Feb 19 2013, 03:37am hrs
Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen on Monday emphasised on the need for a universal health coverage for a proper public health system in the country and called for a fresh approach.

Sen said the state should provide for "universal healthcare for all" and observed that reliance on private heath care was an illusion.

"Private health care can have a role to play only on the foundation laid by public healthcare. It is a mistaken belief that private heath care can meet the gap," he said, adding that from the economic literature as well as from the experience of other countries one can learn of this.

He was speaking on the sidelines of the tenth annual declaration of The Kolkata Group, a forum of scholars, policy makers activists and development experts on the issue of 'Women Health and Justice'.

Sen said allocation of resources to healthcare was not adequate and there was a need for greater allocation of public funds in healthcare.

The Centre spends only 1.2 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product in public healthcare, which is very low compared to even developing countries, he pointed out.

"China spends 2.7 per cent of its GDP in public health care," Sen pointed out.

Asked if there is a need for legislation providing Right to Health of the country on the lines of education, he said, "Yes it will help but it alone cannot provide the cure."

Sen also pointed that insurers also try to find excuses not to provide cover.

He also ticked off capital punishment, saying it can not usher in social reform.

"Awarding death penalty can serve the purpose of revenge but will not help in cases of violence against women," he observed.