The Indian Government has announced that it is set to transform the Indian healthcare sector, giving poorer citizens access to vital services.
The new National Health Protection Scheme, revealed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, will grant poorer income families greater access to health insurance. Amongst a growing economy and increasing populations, the government is looking at new ways in which to better serve local communities prior to national elections, which are set to be underway in 2019.
Although similar schemes have not been successful, the government is certain that this will prove successful, where poorer citizens have limited access to health insurance. The government has stated that it has put aside $314 million for the programme, but with over a billion citizens, the budget will need to be ramped up significantly.
The scheme will open the doors to low-income families and provide up to 500,000 rupees (up to US$8,000) per annum, where citizens will gain access to essential hospital cover.
At present, India is amongst the countries which spend the lowest financially within its public healthcare services, where treatment remains out of reach for over 30% of the local population. The average life expectancy in India is also under 70, which is lower than other developing countries.
A shortage of doctors and limited spend in public hospitals has further exacerbated the barriers the country faces in its goal to provide Universal Healthcare Coverage (UHC) in the future, where may public hospitals are in need of Improvement.
Jaitley has described the scheme to be the “world’s largest healthcare programme” which would create hundreds of new healthcare-based roles. It would provide further support, reduce the financial burden and increased risks families currently undertake to gain essential services.
Nonetheless, it has been stated that many healthcare ailments are the result of ongoing issues relating to hygiene and environmental standards in the country. With rising pollution, poor sanitation and poor infrastructure, the country has a way to go until its healthcare becomes world-class.