India has a long way to go before it catches up with the rest of the world in terms of healthcare availability for its over 1.2 billion people.

With an abysmal doctors density of just 0.6 for every 1,000 people, against the global average of 1.23, accessibility to hospitals and medicines for just 70 per cent of India’s population is likely to remain a distant dream at least until 2040, according to the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham).

In comparison, doctors’ density in China stands at 1.7, the US 2.7 and the UK 2.1, while hospitals bed density in China is 3, the US 3.1 and the UK 3.9 against just 1.27 in India.

“The healthcare infrastructure in India is highly inadequate comparing global standards. It lags far behind the global average in terms of healthcare infrastructure and manpower,” the report noted.

The major barriers to health care accessibility observed by the report includes limited means of transportation, infrastructure, cost of health care and gender discrimination, which makes women the less privileged section regarding healthcare and more vulnerable to various diseases and associated mortality.

Further, India’s spending on healthcare is much lower than in developed and other emerging economies, as well as the global average. India spends just 4.1 per cent of the gross domestic product on healthcare against 8.4 per cent in Brazil, 15.7 per cent in the US, 4.30 per cent in China and a global average of 9.7 per cent.

Moreover, the report notes that the public-private spending ratio is severely skewed in India, with 75 per cent of the contribution coming from private entities, which is one of the highest in the world.

aesha.datta@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on August 20, 2012)
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