Health Care Improvements in India
Health care improvements in India have taken place thanks to a boost in awareness initiatives and government spending.

Increased Government Spending

Government health spending in India has steadily risen to 30 percent of the country’s total health expenditure, 10 percent higher than in 2005. While an increase in spending in the health care industry is a positive, India remains below the average of other lower- to middle-income countries for public spending at 38 percent.

More than 550 million Indians now have some form of health insurance coverage, which marks a dramatic increase from 50 million in 2005.

Improved Emergency Response Time

The Registry of Hospitals in Network of Insurance (ROHINI) is the first database for hospitals in India, which includes more than 32,000 hospitals. ROHINI uses specific hospital identification numbers and geographical location information for hospitals and has transformed the health sector data analytics. Emergency response, disease surveillance and monitoring are all possible and more effective thanks to this system.

In addition, ome specific health care improvements in India include:

  • Premature mortality rates have dropped in the last decade as well, with 57 deaths per 1,000 lives birth to 37 between 2005 and 2015. This can be attributed to an increase in institutional birthing, improved sanitation and immunization coverage.
  • The country has been polio-free since 2014. India has also eliminated tetanus as of 2015, with specific goals for the eradication of malaria, tuberculosis (TB) and lymphatic filariasis in the coming years.
  • According to PATH, “after significant progress in the last few years, 70 percent of India’s population now has access to subsidized food.”

Greater Collaboration

Two of the largest states in India, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, are collaborating with doctors outside of the area as well as researchers to implement strategies to help the healthcare sector. Some of these strategies include nurse mentoring, and the observation of delivery services to and from hospitals, with more than 8,000 deliveries observed since 2012.

The Uttar Pradesh government is conducting a large-scale evaluation of social accountability interventions to improve health care services at the village level.

India only allocates 1.15 percent of its GDP to health care currently and because of the country’s shortage of staff, funds are being underutilized. The government has pledged to increase health spending to 2.5 percent of India’s GDP by 2025.

Casey Geier
Photo: Flickr

Poverty A Factor in High Rates of Obesity in India
Alongside rising poverty rates, India’s population has encountered elevated cases of nutrition-related diseases. However, as a result of the fast-food proliferation movement caused by the multi-spread of fast food industries through globalization, the problem of obesity in India succeeded in outweighing its underweight and malnourishment issues due to its multiple life-threatening comorbidities.

With 270 million people reported as living below the poverty line, India was not previously seen to be at risk of obesity which was correlated with higher and more frequent access to food. Yet, the Indian lifestyle altered dramatically, from an active mode of living requiring constant strength and mobility in agricultural fields and industrial sectors to a sedentary lifestyle dependent on machines and technological innovations brought upon the country by the developed nations in the form of transnational corporations.

According to the Lancet journal in 2013, the percentage of obesity in India ranked the nation as one of the top 10 countries having the highest proportion of obese citizens. In fact, India and China together contributed to 15 percent of the world’s obesity, with a total of 46 million Chinese and 30 million Indian obese people.


New Food and Dietary Patterns

Globalization and the expansion of transnational corporations have been continuously associated as two main underlying causes of the obesity epidemic witnessed in developing countries. Foreign trade through multinational companies paved the pathway for increasing the availability of international food products and foreign brands at reduced prices.

This shift in dietary patterns and the quality of food products in the markets not only negatively affected the profit of local farmers and the country’s overall economy, but it also led to the development of a double burden of disease on the healthcare system. On the one hand, infectious and communicable diseases continue to strive and cause seasonal outbreaks; on the other, the afterthoughts of obesity including heart disease, liver damage and diabetes reflect the dangerous health impact of obesity through high incidence and prevalence rates.


Impact of Obesity in India

Dr. Anoop Misra, chairman of the National Diabetes, Obesity, and Cholesterol Foundation, highlighted obesity in India as one of the most concerning health issues for the country’s population, particularly among children. According to Misra, recent childhood obesity statistics are alarming as the intra-abdominal and truncal subcutaneous adiposity features in children tend to expose them to further lifelong comorbidities such as type II diabetes. Misra also asserted the crucial need for intervention programs in the country addressing obesity through healthy nutrition, physical activity, and stress management.


Measures for Improvement

Despite the significant impact caused by obesity on the overall development of the country, only few steps and initiatives have been taken to address the problem. Certain non-profit organizations provide resources for the youth and their parents to help them fight obesity, while medical professionals tend to recommend bariatric surgery rather than preventive treatment due to higher effectiveness and efficiency.

Future efforts in the country should be directed towards primary prevention, including educational and awareness campaigns, physical education opportunities and access to healthy/locally grown food at lower prices. Such attempts could contribute in proactively lowering the rates of obesity in India rather than relying on expensive means to fight the problem.

– Lea Sacca

Photo: Flickr