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The Challenges of the Healthcare System in India

We explore the challenges and opportunities of the healthcare system in India, looking at how COVID-19 has impacted the country.

India Healthcare System Challenges

The best thing about living in the 21st century has to be the rapid rate of change in every sector of society. Healthcare in India, in particular, has witnessed a significant amount of evolution. Right from advanced biomedical tools to unimaginable surgeries performed by robots, the healthcare industry in India is at its historical peak. 

However, along with the fast-paced advancements comes the burden of bearing the second highest population in the world. An increasing global population puts a strain on India’s healthcare resources, while longer life expectancies put a lot of stress on India’s healthcare system.

With the health sector in India struggling under a staggering amount of infrastructural problems, there is a high need for our healthcare workers to be updated with the latest knowledge and provided with the newest resources.

Putting oneself out there is no easy task; with the healthcare industry in India demanding that much-needed influx of medical information, we have realised the importance of online healthcare courses for healthcare workers across the board. 

Right from providing crucial knowledge regarding healthcare leadership and management to showcasing the positives of improving healthcare through research, these courses can provide valuable learning opportunities. Let us take a closer look at the positives and negatives of the healthcare industry in India.

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India’s healthcare system

The state government primarily dispenses healthcare in India. Capitalising on the vast human capital available in the country, the healthcare system in India has produced some of the finest medical surgeons and tools in the industry.

One thing is evident to any onlooker: India has an extensive healthcare system. Yet, there exist significant-quality discrepancies between rural and urban areas and between public and private healthcare providers. 

Historically speaking, healthcare in India has seen many government-sponsored schemes aiming to provide good quality healthcare services to the poorest of the population. The National Rural Health Mission was established in 2005 to address the absence of medical coverage in rural areas. In order to improve health care in rural India, this mission concentrates resources on rural areas and poor states with poor health facilities.  

In spite of the presence of a vast number of schemes for the economically disadvantaged population, ineffective public healthcare and insurance models have rendered this herculean effort useless. Furthermore, extended hospital wait times, the perception that public health care in India is of poor quality, and significant labour and infrastructure shortages are all systemic impediments to access.

Despite this, India is a popular destination for medical tourists due to the low costs and good quality of its private institutions. Healthcare expenditure in India is one of the lowest around the globe, making it one of the most sought-after healthcare sectors in the whole world. 

International students in India can anticipate excellent medical care from private hospitals, thanks to India’s improvements in healthcare. One noteworthy mention goes to the incredible amount of research that has cropped up in recent years. Owing to this beautiful research-oriented approach in 21st-century healthcare in India, the quality of treatment and outpatient care has shot up in a positive direction.

The effects of COVID-19 on healthcare in India

With the COVID-19 pandemic putting even the world’s most advanced healthcare systems to the test, India’s healthcare system has also been disturbed. While usually sufficient, healthcare in India found itself on its knees by the ferocious second wave of COVID-19 in April 2021. 

A devastated Indian healthcare system infrastructure was brutally exposed by the lack of oxygen and drugs required for the treatment of COVID-19 in India. Additionally, the lack of awareness regarding healthcare insurance made it very difficult for the ordinary person to receive the full extent of in-patient care for COVID-19.

However, not all news was bleak. The silver lining in the whole situation was that private Indian healthcare companies took the initiative and have been delivering the government with all of the resources it requires, including testing, isolation beds for treatment, medical personnel, and equipment at government COVID-19 hospitals, as well as home healthcare. 

Furthermore, the sheer tenacity with which the health care system in India implemented innovative treatment methods for COVID-19 shows how far the healthcare industry in India has progressed since its inception in the 1900s.

Various healthcare workers in the Indian healthcare sphere, ranging from nurses to doctors, have made a positive stride by updating their knowledge to suit the unique COVID-19 needs

Managing change in India’s healthcare is a task that is best left to academic reforms in imparting healthcare education, although healthcare workers can certainly make their voices heard. 

The way the healthcare sector in India managed the second wave of COVID-19 is primarily thanks to the advanced healthcare education imparted at the college level to all students.

Current healthcare issues in India  

While the COVID-19 virus is still ravaging the country, we have seen that the healthcare sector in India has been fighting its monsters for the past 50 odd years. Current healthcare issues in India range anywhere from infrastructural problems to blatant inefficiency of the bureaucratic system of the hospital administration. Let us take a look at some of the most important ones:

Infrastructural issues

Out of the current healthcare issues faced by the health sector in India, the biggest has to be a lack of infrastructure. Repeated insufficiency of hospital beds, a dearth of specialised faculty to treat major diseases, and high out-of-pocket financial expenditure makes for an impossibly stressed national health care system. 

Add to it a low rate of training professionals compared to other countries; the workload on this struggling healthcare system is hanging by a thread at this point.

Child mortality rates

While the world is going through a decline in mortality rates, India remains high despite the miraculous technological advancements conducted in the past two decades. According to an article published by the Times of India, India has one of the highest infant mortality in the world at 721,000. 

One of the primary reasons for continued mortality rates is the belief that infant care and pre-natal surgical procedures are too costly to be borne by the family. What we must do is make people aware of low-cost interventions that work just as well as the expensive ones. Not only will this reduce mortality rates in the long run, but it will also help increase people’s belief in healthcare in India.

Unmanageable patient-load

Serving a population size of 1.4 billion, nearly 20% of the entire population of the planet, is a Herculean task in itself. Sustainably managing medical and human resources to fulfil the needs of the future generation should be the foremost thing on people’s minds at the moment. 

In order to drive adequate patient flow, healthcare facilities should employ technology wherever possible to optimize operational and clinical operations. Furthermore, there is the difficulty of thinking beyond the obvious and promoting virtual care protocols and telehealth services, both of which can significantly reduce patient load stress.

What does the future hold? 

No one can predict what can really happen in the next decade or so. However, it is not hard to hypothesise the presence of a few elements that we will see in the health care system in India sooner or later:

  • Medical tourism: In comparison to countries in Western Europe or the United States, India’s healthcare sector appeals to overseas patients because of the availability of high-quality treatments at lower pricing. We can quickly expect a massive boost in the medical tourism front owing to the excellent vaccine supplying relations with stable economies like Russia and Brazil too.
  • Use of technology: In today’s world, online consultations and technological platforms are in high demand. Given that the pandemic has extended the need to socially distance, teleconsultations have become a need rather than a want for a majority of the population. The ‘eSanjeevani’ app, an integrated web-based telemedicine service, was launched by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in August 2019. By bridging the gap between urban and rural India, it hopes to make healthcare more equitable.
  • Health insurance awareness: The good news for India is that one of the country’s most pressing healthcare challenges, healthcare insurance, has dramatically improved. In recent years, there has been a greater awareness of health insurance products, and with each passing year, more people are purchasing them.

Final thoughts

Health systems and policies are essential in defining how health services are supplied, used, and impact health outcomes. Health care in India is struggling, but there is a vast sea of hope and improvement considering healthcare education’s direction in the country. 

Aside from resolving the obvious infrastructural deficiencies, the training of professionals should be given the topmost priority. The utilization of online healthcare workshops and courses provided by trusted platforms allows for more advanced and specific training. The role of good quality medical training is truly invaluable and investing in this sphere will be beneficial for us in the long run.

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