Moving Mountains since Mountbatten

If you type ‘Indian Healthcare System’ on Google the search engine will throw up 209,000,000 results each one attacking and demeaning the system more vociferously than the next. My previous article on Healthcare as a Paradox in India certainly did no favours to the healthcare system which has been described by some as “out of date, short-staffed and filthy.”

In the month that we celebrated the 72nd Independence Day in 2018 its time to look at our Indian healthcare through a new lens. Comparing the Indian system to her ‘Western’ counterparts is an apples to oranges comparison given the differences in infrastructure, healthcare spending, maturity and perhaps, more importantly, population parameters and socio-economic discrepancies. A more apt analysis would be to assess how far we’ve come since the fateful day in the middle of August 1947. Here are 10 charts that will kindle the patriotism in you!

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Ofcourse there will be plenty of you out there ready to pounce and fight tooth and nail debating our ‘progress’. The system does have its fallacies and with these advances have come newer scourges like HIV, Cancer, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases which we will continue to battle as a nation. For once however, let’s not carp about the Indian healthcare system but rather marvel that we have gotten this far with significantly less investment than many other nations despite a massive population.  Lest they remain forgotten our strides deserve a mention too be it in small pox, polio, yaws and tetanus or the outbreaks we’ve combatted on shoe string resources in the past 70 odd years: plague, influenza, hepatitis, Nipah, dengue and chikungunya to name a few.

So the next time you do read an article by someone saying the system is abysmal or are engaged with that relative or friend who loves to trash healthcare in India, rather than feel distraught, disillusioned or disgusted, raise your glass to them, it is indeed half full!

Rohan D’Souza

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Disclaimer: Despite all of my research and cross referencing it is important that I acknowledge that health data in India can sometimes be notoriously inaccurate!

References

  1. https://www.firstpost.com/india/70-years-of-independence-indias-life-expectancy-literacy-indicators-look-up-while-imr-income-inequality-are-worries-3928501.html
  2. http://www.economicsdiscussion.net/articles/progress-of-health-services-in-india-after-independence/2297
  3. https://www.tbfacts.org/tb-india-history/
  4. http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/44408/9789241500159_eng.pdf;jsessionid=BB2F5A671281EF660429374BF8088640?sequence=1
  5. https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/sp.dyn.le00.in
  6. http://www.who.int/gho/maternal_health/countries/ind.pdf
  7. https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.DYN.IMRT.IN?locations=IN
  8. Narain, Jai P. “Eradicating and eliminating infectious diseases: past, present and future.” Indian journal of public health2 (2011): 81.
  9. Country profiles FOR 30 HIGH TB BURDEN COUNTRIES http://www.who.int/tb/publications/global_report/gtbr2017_annex2.pdf?ua=1
  10. http://niti.gov.in/content/maternal-mortality-ratio-mmr-100000-live-births
  11. India’s Record Since Independence https://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2013/08/15/indias-record-since-independence/
  12. Zodpey, Sanjay P., and Preeti H. Negandhi. “Tracking India’s Progress in Health Sector after 70 Years of Independence.” Indian journal of public health1 (2018): 1.
  13. Mushtaq, Muhammad Umair. “Public health in British India: A brief account of the history of medical services and disease prevention in colonial India.” Indian journal of community medicine: official publication of Indian Association of Preventive & Social Medicine1 (2009): 6.
  14. http://hummedia.manchester.ac.uk/institutes/gdi/publications/workingpapers/bwpi/bwpi-wp-7909.pdf
  15. Population and Development in India since Independence – K Srinivasan
  16. Burden of Malaria in India: Retrospective and Prospective View by Ashwani Kumar
  17. https://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/in-india-1-doctor-serves-1-668-people-8-lakh-doctors-in-total-govt-117020300985_1.html
  18. List of Medical Colleges https://www.mciindia.org/CMS/information-desk/for-students-to-study-in-india/list-of-college-teaching-mbbs
  19. WHO Health Workforce in India http://www.who.int/hrh/resources/16058health_workforce_India.pdf
  20. WHO Physician Brain Drain in India http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/86/1/07-041681/en/

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