The healthcare dream
In one of the press conferences held by the government last year to celebrate achievements of UPA II, a journalist from a vernacular daily innocuously asked the Union health minister, “Sir, when an aam aadmi falls ill, should he run to private hospitals to get robbed or should he head for a government hospital to die?” While this may seem like a case of dramatic exaggeration, it largely sums up the perception that Indians hold of their healthcare systems. And if one measures the health of healthcare indicators, they may not tell a very different story. Some health indices, such as maternal mortality and infant mortality rates, may have improved, but India ranks dismally compared to other emerging economies—Brazil, China and Russia.
Present state of affairs
Life expectancy at 65 years is the lowest in India, compared to 73 in Brazil, 74 in China and 68 in Russia. It is not even comparable to the US, the UK and Japan, where people can expect to live much longer with an average expectancy of over 79. In case of number of infants dying per 1,000 live births, India’s report card says 50, much higher than Brazil and China’s 17 and Russia’s nine. Even more shameful is India’s record of mothers dying per one lakh births.
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