“Neglect of healthcare will have a negative impact on India’s economy”

This was mentioned by the vice president of India, Mr M Hamid Ansari who also pointed towards the side-effects of inadequate funding support for the healthcare

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The Vice President, Mr Hamid Ansari releasing the publication, on the occasion to mark the 20th Anniversary Celebrations of CanSupport, in New Delhi on November 12, 2016.

New Delhi: The Vice President of India, Mr M Hamid Ansari has said that neglect of healthcare will have a negative impact on India’s economy combined with rising population. He was recently addressing on the occasion of 20th Anniversary Celebrations of CanSupport, an NGO providing palliative care for cancer patients.

Mr Ansari said that with more than 1,300 persons succumbing to cancer every day, it has become one of the major causes of deaths in our country. The distressing aspect is that these cancers can be prevented, screened for and/or detected early and treated at an early stage to significantly reduce the death rate, he added.

The Vice President said that despite improvements in access to health care, inequalities related to socioeconomic status, geography, and gender continue to remain, and are being compounded by high out-of-pocket expenditures, with more than three-quarters of the increasing financial burden of health care being met by households. The total allocation on health remains inadequate and much below the amount required to address the yawning gaps, he added.

“The lack of sufficient public allocations has resulted in huge demand-supply gaps in cancer detection, treatment and care requirements,” said the VP adding that responding to palliative care needs of cancer patients requires not only the medical and nursing needs of the person affected but also the patient’s emotional and spiritual distress and support for the caregivers.

With more than 1,300 persons succumbing to it every day, cancer has become one of the major causes of deaths in our country. 

According to the National Cancer Registry Programme of the India Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the estimated mortality rate due to cancer saw an increase of about 6% between 2012 and 2014. It has been estimated that;

  • Around 2.5 million people are living with cancer in India
  • Over 7 lakh new cases are registered every year
  • One woman dies of cervical cancer every 8 minutes
  • For every 2 women newly diagnosed with breast cancer, one woman dies of it in India
  • As many as 2,500 persons die every day due to tobacco-related diseases in India.

The distressing aspect is that these cancers can be prevented, screened for and/or detected early and treated at an early stage to significantly reduce the death rate.

Despite improvements in access to health care, inequalities related to socioeconomic status, geography, and gender continue to remain, and are being compounded by high out-of-pocket expenditures, with more than three-quarters of the increasing financial burden of health care being met by households.

Based on recommendations of the National Health Policy (2002), budget allocations to the health sector progressively increased every year from 2005. By 2010, budgetary allocations had increased from Rs 10,000 crores to Rs 30,000 crores- from 0.9% of total GDP to about 1.3%. Most of these increased allocations went to the National Rural Health Mission aimed at systemic corrections in India’s public health system, and to support healthcare in the lesser developed states.

The draft Twelfth Five Year Plan and draft health policy 2015 had committed the country to increase public expenditure on health to 2.5% of GDP.  This would have required an increase of 30-40% in the Union health budget every year, matched with increased allocations in the state budgets. Knowing that the fiscal space in some of the states with the poorest health status is likely to be the smallest, Union budget needed to provide a larger share.

The total allocation on Health in the latest budget was Rs 33,000 crores – reflecting an increase of 13% over last year’s allocation, which had earlier seen a reduction in allocation. This allocation remains inadequate and much below the amount required to address the yawning gaps.

Neglect of healthcare will have a negative impact on India’s economy combined with rising population. For us, health is an issue of national security. We cannot protect the sovereignty of the nation, or ensure sustainable development unless we have a healthy population. We cannot aspire to be a world power when millions do not have access to affordable health care.

India is the one of the few developing countries that has formulated a National Cancer Control Programme. The programme envisages control of tobacco related cancers; early diagnosis and treatment of uterine cervical cancer; and distribution of therapy services, pain relief and palliative care through augmentation of health infrastructure. Suggested surrogate outcome measures include change in tobacco use, ‘Knowledge, Attitude, Practice’ (KAP) pattern, compliance to screening programmes, changes in referral practices and shift in stage distribution.