Step out of the demand-side

Shift attention to supply-side

Government has been incentivizing pregnant women to deliver in institutions since more than a decade now. The impact is evident in reduction of maternal mortality ratio at national and district levels. My doubt is that won’t these schemes that finance the demand-side create a false sense of security?

Such schemes, called conditional cash transfers, have skyrocketed institutional load to such high levels that antenatal wards in government hospitals are unable to accommodate the admissions. So, what happened to the quality of care?

Since independence, we have been crooning over abysmally low proportions of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) spent on health. This makes me wonder where all this money for demand-side financing comes from. Let us assume that all the money from GDP is paid as incentives. Now, health is a subject of the states. Union only provides resources and supports the state plans. Can the states then find their own sources of revenue to improve the quality? I bet there are more than hundred different channels through which states can make savings. A flyover completed before the deadline earns savings of several crores.

I think it is time the government prioritizes on trainings, skills development, placing the skilled personnel where their skills are required and putting the necessary infrastructure in place.

Conditional cash transfers will remain, but it is time we shine light on the supply-side.

Implement National Health Policy With SDG Push

Right to Education Act (RTE) implementation, which enabled a near-universal access to education, especially for the most vulnerable. Of the children enrolled in schools between 2007-2008 and 2012–13, 56% were girls, and 32% from disadvantaged groups of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The number of children out of school and dropout rates reduced substantially, though not evenly, across all social groups. Right to Health, similarly, could drastically improve the access of millions to a healthy life.

The draft National Health Policy formulated by the government in December 2014 aims to address the “urgent need to improve the performance of health system”, especially to address the high inequity in health outcomes and the healthcare costs that push over 63 million Indians to poverty. The policy proposes that the Centre enact a National Health Rights Act which will ensure health as a fundamental right, the denial of which will be justiciable. Now, the Centre needs to take seriously the Supreme Court’s directive to take a final call on the National Health Policy.