India doing good on health indicators: Naidu

Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu said on Saturday that India has achieved significant progress since Independence on various health indicators. He was delivering the 10th convocation address of the JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research in the city. Mr. Naidu said that with successive governments according high priority to health and well-being of the people, the average life expectancy had increased to 69 years and India’s disease burden caused by communicable, maternal, neonatal, and nutritional diseases has dropped from 61% to 33% between 1990 and 2016. He said these are noteworthy improvements in health indicators relating to infant mortality rate (IMR) and maternal mortality rate (MMR) due to increasing penetration of healthcare services across the country, extensive health campaigns, sanitation drives, increase in the number of government and private hospitals in India, improved immunisation and growing literacy. Competitive advantages The Vice-President pointed out that India’s health sector has a number of competitive advantages and referred to the large pool of well-trained medical professionals; a flourishing pharmaceutical industry which, he said, excels in generic drug manufacturing; and cost-effective and quality medical procedures. Also, the cost of surgery in India is substantially less when compared to the same in the U.S. or Western Europe, which makes India a healthcare destination of choice. Challenges ahead However, despite the advancements, there was a long and arduous road ahead as the country continued to grapple with inadequate public spending on health, low doctor-patient ratio, high share of out-of-pocket expenditure, inadequate infrastructure in rural areas, lack of penetration of health insurance and inadequate preventive mechanisms. The country also faces a huge shortage of qualified medical practitioners, especially specialist doctors. It has been estimated that India is facing a shortage of 6 lakh doctors and 20 lakh nurses. Referring to the National Health Profile 2018, Mr. Naidu said there is just one allopathic government doctor available for around 11,082 people across the country — more than 10 times the WHO recommended ratio of 1:10

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