By- Adeeba Hussain
Health is wealth. Right to health is a fundamental right under article 21 of the constitution. It is mentioned in article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is also a right under International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
The definition of WHO is health is a state of complete physical, mental and social being. Physical health means the complete growth of the body without any kind of deformity and disability. Mental health means complete development of faculties of mind. Social health means living in a healthy environment which is conducive for both mental and physical health.
The responsibility of the state is to give adequate means to protect the health and wellbeing of it's Citizens. Though in India we see rise in life expectancy rate from . Though this is commendable but situation on the ground is not good. Malnutrition is high according to NFHS 38% of children between 0 to 5 years suffer from stunted growth and 36% of children in India are underweight. This is indeed alarming as India largest proportion of youth in it's population in the world. This largely due to growing inequality in India where 1% of population holds more than 75% of income of the country. Malnutrition is a cause of weak immunity which can lead to many diseases in the long run.
State has a responsibility of providing basic healthcare facilities to it's Citizens at a reasonable price. During the last decade especially after liberalisation of Indian economy health sector is has been occupied by private sectors. Though most of them provide excellent services but they do so at a exorbitant price. Only the wealthier population can afford it. Also the most striking feature is that they have commercialised the health sector and made it a privilege of the few. Especially if it related to serious ailments of heart or life threatening disease such as cancer.
We all are aware of pathetic conditions of public health care system much of it is in ruins because of lower spending of GDP on health. In 2017-18 according to data released by the government only 1.28% of GDP is spent on healthcare. This minimal amount of expenditure for public health care system gives private players an opportunity to flood the system. There are no regulations on the earnings of the private hospitals. No guidelines for their functioning and no cap on the prices charged by them.
Second is the reluctance to consider the problem of mental health. Mental health illness is closely related to suicides and as well as crime. In 2018 in India an average 28 students commit suicide every 24 hours. This is due to inability of the youth to cope up with the stress and state of depression. Prolonged mental illness lead to chronic conditions. Most people suffering from mental health issues usually are reluctant to recognise their illness.
The mental health Act 2017 provides detailed guidelines regarding functioning of mental health agencies, regarding qualifications and eligibility of practitioners, guidelines regarding treatment of patients including child and old age. But the reality is that people have very less awareness about it.
Social environment conducive to mental and physical health of a person. According to a survey conducted by GAHP in 2017 1,240,529 people died due ailments related to air pollution which is 2nd highest in the world after China.
Government should carry on with its awareness about the diseases. Should regulate and cap the prices of hospital fees. It should spend more percentage of GDP on healthcare especially in providing services to most vulnerable sections of society because it is them who need the cheap healthcare the most. Doctors should also have a sense of responsibility towards the society they should provide to each member of the society regardless of his capacity to pay and should not indulge in unfair practices. Hospital should be established with the objective of social welfare not commercialization or profit earning. In my opinion healthcare is a sector which needs to be nationalised and regulated by the government.
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