Health care must be recognized as a right not as a privilege. Every man ,women and child in our country should be able to access the health care they need regardless of their income. – Bernie sanders
The novel corona-virus outbreak in India has shepherded all attention to the neglected Public healthcare system of our country. The public healthcare in India is a joint effort by both public and private individuals to prolong life and provide safe healthcare to the public at a subsidized rate. Whilst the country has ratified many international agreements on global healthcare, India has no reference to healthcare as a fundamental right in its constitution. However, Article 21 of the Indian constitution recognizes the right to life and personal liberty. The expression ‘life in this article means a life with human dignity & not mere survival or animal existence. Existing public health initiatives in India include the National Health Mission, Ayushman Bharat, and National Mental Health Mission introduced by the government. The public healthcare in the country is ranked at 150th in position according to the World Economic Forum, which indicates snags in the system. India has a maternal mortality rate of 145 deaths for every 100,000 births and only 72,012 of the births were assisted by a skilled health professional in the year 2017.
Paschim Bangal Khet Mazdoor Samity & Others V State of West Bengal & Others held that in a welfare state, the primary duty of the government is to secure the welfare of the people, and the government must provide adequate medical facilities for its people. The public healthcare in India according to the National Healthcare Plan of 2017 covers all services of primary care, diagnostic services, outpatient and inpatient services at free of cost however to access these services is limited as the family must have a health card that links to the primary care facility to be qualified for the mentioned package of services anywhere in the country.
Stages of public healthcare facilities–
The public hospitals would have to provide universal access to a comprehensive range of free drugs and diagnostics to the patients. The reproductive, maternal, child, and adolescent health and prevalent communicable and non-communicable diseases are included in free primary healthcare at a primary health center. Secondary care is usually provided at the district medical college hospital. Basic secondary services such as caesarian and neonatal care are free or available at subsidized rates. Secondary health care also promises easy and safe access to blood banks. The tertiary care is usually done at a referral hospital or the apex hospital. .
Primary healthcare is given at a sub-center which is established in an area of a population of 5000. It is the first earliest contact between the patient and the public health care system; primary healthcare is also given at the primary health care center which is established at a place with a population of 30,000. The PHC is also equipped to handle local epidemic which may occur in villages. They also dispense birth control measures and sterilization surgeries at a subsidized rate. The primary health care center has basic pregnancy and neonatal care available at all times. The next center for the public health system is the Community Health Center which is maintained by the state government established in an area of 120,000 – 80,000. These health facilities are established and constructed under the National Rural Health Mission. The healthcare centers offer a Universal immunization program that was implemented in the National Vaccine Policy of 2014.
They are equipped with one surgeon, one physician, one pediatrician, and one gynecologist assisted by various paramedical staff. It also acts as a referral center for patients from the primary health care center. The next center in the public healthcare system is the first referral center. It is usually a district hospital or a sub-divisional hospital that has all the time facilities of obstetric surgery, availability of blood transfusion 24/7, operation theater, specialist pediatric care, and all the required equipment.
Healthcare programs offered by the government of India –
The National Rural Health Mission which was integrated into the National Health Mission is aimed towards maternal health, reproductive health, children welfare, and adolescent health. The programs offered the free vaccine to newborns, proper medical help to new mothers, and especially the introduction of the sexual health of adolescents which leads to them making informed choices further in their life. This program’s main objective was to reduce the maternal mortality rate, infant mortality rates, and make healthcare accessible to the rural public at a subsidized rate.
The Janani Shishu Suraksha karyakaram states that all pregnant women who are giving birth in a public health care facility are entitled to free delivery including caesarian. The India Newborn Action Plan is aimed at reducing neonatal mortality rates. The village health and nutrition days are programs that impart knowledge to mothers about proper nutrition and infant care practices. The Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram is India’s first comprehensive health program that is aimed at adolescents to inform them about sexual health. Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram is a program that included all comprehensive and basic healthcare to all children in the age group of 0-18-year-olds in the community.
Healthcare in India is slowly inching towards a more accessible and free health facility to the public. Nevertheless, India has come far with its accomplishments with public healthcare programs and it has now become an essential part of the country’s infrastructure. But it still has a long way to go considering that many obstacles prevent people from accessing public healthcare in society. One such barrier is healthcare facilities cost more money than that public can afford. Another such obstacle can be that the process of accessing such facilities might be complex and frustrating to the public that they choose not to approach public healthcare centers.