He insisted that the government should devote a higher proportion of GDP to public healthcare.
Mumbai: Highlighting the points on ‘demonetisation’, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and public health sector, at the conclave of Platinum Jubilee of the Tata Memorial Centre held on Saturday at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, (TIFR), Nobel laureate Amartya Sen said, “ No country has ever successfully provided universal health coverage without the strong support and commitment of the public health sector”. He also hinted at the demonetisation point and said, “Demonetisation is a missile, and it is not clear where the missile has landed.”
While comparing the decision-making in a country like People’s Republic of China and a democratic country like India, Dr Sen pointed out that in China it is based on the vision of a small group of people, while in India, things should move only when there is a public demand for it. Emphasising on the GDP, Dr Sen added, “The country spends a little over 1 per cent of its GDP on healthcare and even then there is wastage of it while spending.”
He also compared India’s healthcare with neighbouring countries. “While six decades ago, India was second only to Sri Lanka, now it is the second last, ahead only of Pakistan. China spends around three per cent of its GDP on healthcare, while many developing countries like Zambia spend as much as around 11 per cent of their total budget on healthcare.”
Drawing attention to the existing lacunae in the healthcare sector, he said, “Healthcare should include the social determinants of health, such as nutrition, sanitation and social equity.” He insisted that the government should devote a higher proportion of GDP to public healthcare.
While lamenting the lack of public discussion on the subject, he also contended how none of the major political parties took the trouble to mention health care during 2014 election canvassing. “The exploitation of poor, ignorant patients at the hands of private doctors has to stop. Although privatisation plays a role, it cannot be our solution,” he remarked.