Most of the Indian states have neglected its public health services for decades. With the outbreak of the pandemic, the importance of a sound public healthcare system have shown its irreplaceable value. Although it is not favour by the higher middle class and the elites of the Indian society, there no denying to its capabilities of shouldering the lion’s share in treating people. Not just for preventive services, but also in providing clinical care, more than 90% of the COVID 19 patients requiring critical care have been treated by the hospitals run by the government.
In the entre Indian subcontinent, the state of Kerala with its robust public healthcare system has been successfully able to contain the spread of the virus and treat those who are infected. Other richer states like Maharashtra and Gujarat has suffered owing to its understaffed government hospitals and other public healthcare facilities.
Keeping this situation in mind, the first and most crucial step to improve the public healthcare system is to increase the health budget. At present it stands at a meagre 1.15% of the GDP, but needed to be doubled in terms of the National Health Policy that was devised back in 2017. To add to it, it should be 3-4% of the GDP. States too need to reconsider their spending on healthcare.
Another point to take away from Kerala’s public healthcare system is its inclusion of primary healthcare being a part of the health services. The most importance steps that are quintessential in dealing with a pandemic involves testing, detection of cases at its early stages and the preventive measures. All these processes are carried out by the staff at the PHC level.
Unfortunately, these are the sections which are grossly understaffed and hence overburdened in most of the states.
With the outbreak of the pandemic, the shortcomings of the public healthcare systems have been exposed. But, it is also an eye-opener since it is easier to work for the overall development of the system with the setbacks clearly visible.