What ails our hospitals ?
Once we get over this panic of pandemic, Governments would hopefully, or even certainly, sit back and reflect on hospitals, healthcare and more..( i wrote this post a year back- now refreshing it).
If there is one thing that is top of the mind this elections, it is hospitals. India , actually, has one of the best healthcare arrangements in the world. In theory at least.
Patients can choose from government funded ( free of cost ) treatment- akin to the NHS , or from a range of private, world class hospitals. All this, augmented by insurance options that are available and regulated.
In theory, this is the best model that could be. So, is that it ? That the indian consumer has the best of breed when it comes to healthcare? Sadly, far from it. What seems to be sorely missing is affordable, good quality, or even free primary healthcare. PHCs ( primary healthcare centres) - as a model , again in theory, are supposed to be widely dispersed and freely available. Tertiary care- i.e the secondary hospitals should only be for referrals.
In fact, what is often seen on the ground is people visiting tertiary care for simple, out-patient type complaints which could well be sorted in PHCs. When the backbone of the healthcare system- the PHCs dont function right, the entire system is extremely fragile, as you can well imagine. There are good PHCs which work round the clock and then there are some PHCs which dont work at all. And hence a motley mix. Even when they do work, they seem to be often hampered by a lack of staff or equipment. On top of it, overworked Govt doctors and medicos are often at the mercy of the public, who sometimes attack them too. Absolute madness, so unfair, i am lost for words here.
So far, governments have been spending huge budgets on defence. Now that it is clear, the next wave of attacks is through biological warfare, they had better ramp up this neglected sector, and do it fast. Just as they had nuclear bunkers for a possible nuclear war, we may need sophisticated hospitals for bio wars, to be on standby. And thus, be prepared for the new wave of attacks.
What might be good to focus on is to make the PHCs efficient and expand their scope as well, to deal with a lot more at the very first level- preventative and corrective healthcare included. Just a thought for the new Government, whichever one that is !
Regards. Aina Rao, The amblingindian. www.amblingindian.com- quirky reads on india!