Healthcare in Rural India – Opportunities & Challenges

As we all know, India is always in limelight for various discussions around healthcare. Most common topics are

As we all know, India is always in limelight for various discussions around healthcare. Most common topics are related to the skewed doctor-patient ratio, less than optimal spend on healthcare by the government and the accountability conundrum between central and state related to health outcomes

During my recent visit to Jhagadia block in Gujarat I interacted with various stakeholders like ASHA, AWW, FHW, MPHW, Dai as well as medical & paramedical staff from Primary Health Centres (PHC), Community Health Centres (CHC) and patients themselves.

I observed many challenges but would like to highlight three pressing issues which I think requires thoughtful consideration.

  1. Limited awareness about various health schemes & benefits

I found this as pressing issue because patients themselves aren’t aware of benefits which were available to them and on top of it some of them weren’t able to differentiate cards given to them to avail the services. This needs attention as this can help people to turn up for availing medical help without worrying about finances associated.

  1. Disease Management and Follow Ups

This is a challenge all across the system and not only restricted to rural villages. I interacted with healthcare providers to understand a ball park estimate which was as high as 60 to 65 percent dropouts in several instances for villages especially. If this challenge can be addressed effectively than it can definitely reduce the burden on the hospitals and in such cases technology can be a real game-changer.

  1. Lack of Diagnostic centers

This is true as we move deep from Tier-1 to Tier-2 & Tier-3 and further. One of the reasons stated for this as it is largely unorganized down there and also depends on doctor relationship with diagnostic centres. Another challenge is lack of available resources to address this pressing issue. As per government estimate (As on 31st March 2016) 9637 out of 25354 total Primary Health Centres (PHCs) functioning all over India are without lab technician. This leads to lack of supply which in turn would affect demand as well from the patient as well as practitioner fraternity.

 

The Road Forward…

To summarize this, the road forward would be evolved models in terms of providing integrated care which would start with

  • Health related awareness and
  • Follow up support which would prevent readmission of patient in the hospitals
  • Increased efficiency so that hospital beds can be utilized efficiently as well; which is again a point of concern for country like us.

 

All the views mentioned here are personal only; it has no relation with the organisation I am associated with till now.

About the author

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Yatindra Jha, is a consult across industries ranging from healthcare, education, consumer products and many others. Currently, I am working towards developing a sustainable model for delivery of healthcare services in rural villages.

 

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