EDITORIAL

HEALTHCARE FOR ALL, NEED OF TIME

As we celebrate the World Health Day on April 7, we need to reiterate the need for healthcare for all more than anytime before. Universal health coverage (UHC), based on strong health systems, is the best way to ensure that people can access the health services they need, without facing financial hardship. New data from WHO and the World Bank show that at least half of the world’s population still does not have access to essential health services, such as having a skilled birth attendant, vaccinations for children or treatment for HIV. But even when health services are available, using them can mean financial ruin. Strong health systems are vital for improving and protecting health. But they’re also the best defense against outbreaks and epidemics. UHC is not a dream for the future. It is a reality now. Countries at all income levels are proving that UHC is achievable and affordable, with domestic resources. In India a provision has been made in the Budget for 2018-19 for providing healthcare to all. Modicare, as the scheme has come to be termed, will provide a shot in the arm for the healthcare sector, increasing the insurance cover per family by over 1500% from `30,000 under the extant Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY), to `5 lakh.

The scheme will target up to 500 million individuals from financially vulnerable households, demographically that accounts for 41.3% of the population, according to Census data. Under the National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS), four in ten Indians can avail of secondary and tertiary care in government and private hospitals, within the insurance cap earmarked per family. Secondary healthcare services include those provided by skilled medical practitioners, for outpatient treatment, or a brief stay at a hospital for serious illness. Tertiary care is for patients who are admitted to hospitals for longer bouts of illness, and require the attention of specialist doctors. Tertiary care is extended to patients who are suffering from acute pain, or terminal illness. The success of this scheme is greatly dependent on providing adequate funds for the scheme and also prevent any ‘leaks’ in form of any financial scams, which generally fails such public good programmes.