‘Up to 30% of poorest quintile seek private healthcare services’

A file photo of government-run Dasappa Hospital in Bengaluru, Karnataka.   | Photo Credit: K Murali Kumar

The life expectancy among the poorest sections of society in urban areas when compared to the richest economic groups is lower by 9.1 years and 6.2 years for men and women respectively. This was one of the key findings in a report on healthcare inequality and vulnerabilities faced by the urban poor in India released by Azim Premji University (APU) on Friday.

Calling for significant investments in scaling up healthcare facilities and infrastructure in the cities, the study found that there is a disproportionate disease burden on the poor, chaotic urban health governance, financial burden on the poor and urban local bodies are less invested in healthcare. Research for the report, ‘Health Care Equity in Urban India’, was conducted in collaboration with 17 regional NGOs to combat the problem.

“The report explores understanding of health vulnerabilities of urban poor, availability, accessibility and cost of healthcare facilities and possibilities in future-proofing services in the next decade,” said APU in a statement.

Cost-wise, the report observed that evidence across India showed 30% of the poorest quintile seeking healthcare from private sources, even as up to 30% of India’s population lives in urban areas. As there is a 10-fold difference in cost between public and private facilities, it significantly adds to their financial burden.

To address these issues, the university and NGOs called for strengthening community participation and governance, building a comprehensive and dynamic database on the health and nutrition status, strengthening healthcare provisioning through the National Urban Health Mission and policy measures to reduce financial burden on the poor.

The varsity and NGOs reminded that the 74th Constitutional Amendment, 1992 mandated a central role for urban local bodies to be invested in healthcare but that was hardly visible, except for some pockets in Bengaluru, Mumbai and Thiruvananthapuram.

“The very purpose of APU is to contribute to a just, equitable, humane and sustainable society. The pandemic has brought to the fore the tremendous inequities in healthcare for disadvantaged sections in rural and urban India. This comprehensive report on healthcare in urban India highlights key gaps in the health system that lead to inadequate health access for the urban poor,” said Richa Govil, director, school of development, APU.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2022 4:53:53 PM |

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