Thursday, September 29, 2022

India Ahead

By The Editorial Team Updated: Jul 20, 2020 7:00 pm

India has done reasonably well in combating Covid-19 pandemic. This has been made possible because of the government’s presence in healthcare. In most developed countries including the US, France, Italy, etc., the health sector is completely dominated by private players. As a result, certain sections of society, especially the poor were affected extensively. On the other hand, though India has opened its economy for private players, the country has never diluted its focus on welfare. So, treatment at affordable cost is still available to all sections of people in India.

The result is in the open for everyone to see. Firstly, India’s death tally is lower than most countries. Secondly, there is no report from anywhere in the country about poor men not getting treatment for want of money. Last but not the least, India’s fight against Covid-19 is mostly being led by slum dwellers, rather than the richie riches, be it in Maharashtra’s Dharavi or Belgachia Basti in Kolkata. Quite interestingly, when cases were reported from these slums, the initial reactions were community spread of the lethal virus was just a matter of time. But, people in these slums proved everyone wrong. Both in Maharashtra and West Bengal, today the situation is such that congested areas are largely free from corona, while the bungalows or apartments, abode of the riches are struggling to ward off the danger.

The development proves that healthcare under government control is equally as good as those offered by private players. No one from Dharavi was admitted to Hinduja, Joslok or Lilavati, the famous medical addresses of Mumbai. Not a single one from Belgachia Basti got treatment Apolo, Fortis or AMRI, the so called super-specialty hospitals in Kolkata; yet both these areas have earned praises from various quarters including WHO. Thus while both the government as well as private super specialty hospitals are offering similar treatments, difference lies in billing. In government hospitals, the cost of treatment is minimal. But it is astronomically high in private hospitals. To be more precise, the private players are virtually looting the people in the name of quality treatment taking advantage of the prevailing pandemic situation. The charges in private hospitals are so high that Punjab, West Bengal, along with some other states, has now put a cap on the costs of the treatment. In other words, these states have virtually warned the private players in health sector either to think about welfare of the people or perish.

Clearly, hard stand taken by the states will help India to combat Covid-19 more vigorously. At the same time, it will bring a drastic change in our healthcare system. Corona has proved beyond doubt that Indian doctors are second to none in treating critical patients. What is lacking in Indian medical scene is proper infrastructure. The pandemic has proved how inadequate our health infrastructure is. So, once the storm is over, India, on a war footing, should start creating infrastructure, rather than allowing private players to set up more hospitals which are driven only by profits. If corona has snatched away so many lives all over the world, it is because of the presence of too many private players in the health sector. To some extent, India was an exception. But this is not the time to be complacent. We will have to work harder to further consolidate the gains.

By The Editorial Team Updated: Jul 20, 2020 7:00:00 pm