Selling a buffalo for a brain scan: India’s COVID-19 crisis reveals deep fractures in its health system
UC’s Dr Kaaren Mathias writes about the lack of investment in India’s public sector, which has led to an unaffordable, failing healthcare system, in a new article on The Conversation.
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With more than 300,000 new cases reported each day, hospitals and crematoria face collapse. Global media have been awash with heartbreaking images, statistics and stories showing the failure of the country’s health system in the face of surging infections and deaths.
The fracture lines in India’s health system have been developing for years. After decades of under-investment in healthcare and preventative health, India has one of the most privatised health systems in the world. As a consequence, healthcare costs are a leading cause of poverty.
As my recent research into rural mental health services shows, patients are caught between the under-resourced public sector and the profit-focused private health market. Some even many, have to “sell a buffalo to pay for a brain scan”.
Back in 1946, India’s visionary Bhore Committee report declared in its preamble that:
No individual should fail to secure adequate medical care because of inability to pay for it.