Realities of Health in India
The latest National Family and Health Survey (NFHS) has projected an alarming picture. The survey reveals shocking levels of anaemia and malnutrition amongst the Indian populace. The survey further claims that the children, touted to be the future of the nation, are the worst sufferers of these two menaces. It has also brought to light the fact that things are not so different in ‘rich states’ such as Gujarat, Maharashtra or Karnataka. These states along with Bihar and other poorer states, figure prominently in both lists. The survey result clearly proves that healthcare facilities in India are not working properly. There are loopholes in our policies and programmes regarding healthcare. So, more attention should be given to the health sector if we are really interested in making a strong and healthy India.
According to the social researchers, the higher rate of anaemia among women of reproductive age means that the children they bear will inherit weaknesses and susceptibilities. As a result, the children will be more prone to being affected by serious diseases from day one. At the same time the number of children suffering from malnutrition reveals that all government programmes to increase the immunity of the children have failed to achieve desired success and such programmes should be looked into at the earliest.
NFHS should not be considered as mere figures as from within the figures, a grim reality comes out to haunt us. It clearly shows that even after seven decades of Independence, India is still unable to ensure a healthy and nutritious diet for all its citizens. One may argue that India has come a long way since 1947 and the country is now self-reliant on food production and so, the reasons behind the alarming rise of anaemia or malnutrition are different. But, it is not a question of making food grains available to the people rather it is equally important to check the quality of the grains. In India, food adulteration is rampant. The government should keep a strict vigil on unscrupulous businessmen to ensure proper food value. Attention should be given on the use of fertilizers and pesticides as rampant use of these two during farming may cause health hazards. A strict quality control regime should be in place.
The latest outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has shown how ill-prepared India is to combat such a situation. Now NFHS shows that primary healthcare is also neglected in India. Super specialty hospitals will not be able to serve any purpose if we continue to neglect primary healthcare. There is an urgent need to train our ASHA and Anganwadi workers so that proper steps can be taken to prevent the spread of anaemia and malnutrition amongst women and children, a crucial step in creating a healthy society. In this regard, it is heartening to note that the Central Government has decided to increase the health sector outlay from the next fiscal. But the additional allocation will provide results only when it is spent judiciously. Otherwise, India’s women and children will continue to suffer from diseases like anaemia and malnutrition.