Can COVID-19 crisis lead to stronger healthcare sector in India?

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Ritika Pathak

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Pandemic could act as a trigger and public health could get a boost in India.

With about 1.2% of GDP spending by the government and weak existing infrastructure, the healthcare sector in India has been in the need of reforms even before the outbreak of COVID-19. As coronavirus positive cases continue to plummet in the country, there has been huge pressure on the healthcare sector.

Due to limited facilities, poor & fragmented access, India is poised for deep structural health reforms. Once reforms start, the results could be dramatic over a 10-15 year period. India, at present, has access to both the income levels and building blocks that have been a precursor to game-changing reforms in over 20 nations. It would reduce out-of-pocket medical expenses and improve the existing health care facilities, thereby resulting in more than a doubling of outpatient visits per capita.

Nevertheless, it doesn’t seem to be a plausible option now as the Healthcare sector in India is already under immense pressure due to COVID-19 pandemic. Early precautions and lockdown extension has not been able to contain a surge in COVID-19 infections which now stands at about 23k cases with over 700 deaths.

However, structural reforms seem imminent in India. COVID-19 pandemic could trigger a change in the time to come an opportunity for large-scale reforms in India & could make health care an important topic for voters.

Secondly, the emergence of technocratic capability, like how Kerala reacted to both the Nipah and COVID-19 outbreaks could serve as an example for other states to follow. With the help of technocratic capabilities, more digital insurance models and low-cost hospitals could prop up across the country. Once the crisis is over, we could have stronger healthcare in India.

The COVID-19 crisis and the presence of these building blocks will provide a big impetus to healthcare sector in India. Furthermore, the growth of digital innovation could act as an encouragement to future reforms, given how Aadhar has become accessible across the people.

 

One Comments

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    Neelam Yadav 25 / 04 / 2020 Reply

    It was predicted that the status of current healthcare in india will become a concern if such pandemic hit india. We were not adequate at normal times. So I am also thinking that now our government will focus in enhancing healthcare sector in india.

     

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