Right to health is a fundamental right in India and has been constantly
upheld by the supreme court through several landmark judgements. Despite such
strong prevalence and recognition of this right in the country, very little
effort has been made by the state to uphold it. August 2017 saw the death of 290
children due to lack of oxygen cylinders in a government run medical college.
The following month further saw the death of 49 children due to lack of basic
medical facilities in another state run facility. In a recent incident three
women from Uttar Pradesh were negligently injected with anti- rabies vaccine
instead of Co-vid vaccine in a government hospital.
There has always been a dire need of health care reforms in India, long before
the pandemic highlighted the inefficiencies in our system. India spends only 1.8
percent of its GDP on healthcare adding it to the list of states which spends
the least on healthcare in the world and to the list of countries with highest
The government has attempted to tackle the issue of healthcare in India by
launching overly -ambitious universal healthcare schemes like Ayushman Bharat
Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima yojana, Aam Aadmi Bima Yojana, etc.
However, these schemes failed drastically to bring about any substantial change
in the healthcare situation in India due to several reason like lack of
infrastructure, lack of funding and allocation of budget, largescale corruption,
loopholes in the policies, etc.
Despite having made substantial progress across certain health indicators like
maternal mortality, malnutrition and considerably widespread diseases remain
prevalent in India. A report published by national statistical office in 2018
highlighted only 2/3rd of children in India were fully immunised .
Several factors are responsible for this:
- Functional Illiteracy:
The lack of awareness among the Indian population regarding their own health
is widespread. A study indicated that only 1/3rd of antenatal mothers were
aware of the adequate knowledge on breastfeeding practices. Another report
suggested that only 11.3 percent girl in Haryana were adequately informed on
reproductive health issues. The reasons behind these significantly low
numbers are low emphasis on education within the Indian healthcare system,
low functional literacy, low concern regarding health within the population,
among several other factors.
- Lack of accessibility to quality healthcare:
Several factors like availability, supply, utilisation of services and
social, cultural and financial barriers determine accessibility to
healthcare. It has been observed that 'Physical reach' is one of the major
factors resulting in lack of access to healthcare in India. The criteria
determining 'physical access' states that a healthcare facility can only be
said to be accessible if it is present within five kilometres from the place
Based on this criteria a report published by IMS institute for healthcare
informatics stated that healthcare facility was only available to thirty
seven percent Indians in rural areas. Keeping aside the 'physical access'
determinant there is also a lack of access to quality healthcare resulting
in lack of basic facilities like beds and bathrooms even in PHC's.
- Lack of manpower in healthcare:
India has a severe shortage of manpower in the healthcare sector with
approximately 20 healthcare personnel's working per ten thousand people. The
distribution and availability of these personnel's also varies based on the
region, with lesser availability of workforce in poor and rural areas
resulting in shortage of qualified healthcare workers in these regions.
- Lack of affordable quality healthcare:
Private sector healthcare is the key service provider in India. Despite
public sector healthcare being either free of cost or of minimal cost there
is a considerable inclination of the population towards private sector
healthcare due better quality and reliability of its services as compared to
public sector healthcare.
This results in the private sector healthcare to charge hefty amounts for
its services. Lack of affordable and unregulated health care services in
India have resulted in a majority of population to either get exploited by
the private sector healthcare providers or to receive below par treatment at
Other factors like lack of accountability , unequal quality of treatment
based on caste, class, gender and most Importantly lack universal health care
scheme and practice of 'out-of- pocket' payment methods for healthcare also play
an important role in the deteriorating condition of India's healthcare.
There is a need for the government to take substantial steps to increase
awareness regarding health within its population. Studies have shown that
'behavioural change' interventions have brought about impactful results.
There is also a need for the state to determine the existing barriers causing
hinderances in making healthcare available to everyone.
Further it is important that a policy is formulated on 'Health Human-Power'
which provides measures to ensure that every Indian has access to a trained and
a qualified healthcare personnel. It is also essential that the government gives
urgent attention to the current healthcare crisis in the country and raises its
allotted expenditure on health to at least a minimum of 6 percent of GDP in the
This will improve the current condition of public healthcare services with
better quality infrastructure, affordable quality healthcare services. Improved
infrastructure of healthcare services in rural and poor areas will also attract
more qualified healthcare workers. There is also requirement to strictly
regulate private healthcare service providers in order to protect the public
Most Importantly it is essential for India to adopt an effective universal
healthcare policy, compulsory health insurance for every citizen and increase
its spending of 1.8 percent to at least a minimum of 6 percent of total GDP on
its healthcare. n
- INDIA CONST. art. 21.
- Pt. Parmanand Katara v. Union Of India, A.I.R. 1989 S.C. 2039 (India).
- Omar Rashid, 'Gorakhpur Hospital ignored warning on oxygen supply', The
- Sandeep Rai, 'Three women administered anti raboes injections instead of
covid vaccine, probe ordered', The times of India (2021).
- Banjot Kaur, 'Union Budget 2021-22: how goof is the hike in allocation
for health?' Down to earth (2021).
- National Statistical Office, Ministry of Statistics and Programme
Implementation, Government of India , NSS 75th Round (July 2017-June 2018).
- Mittal K, Goel MK 'Knowledge regarding reproductive health among urban
adolescent girls of Haryana', Indian J Community Med. (2010)
- Munjanja SP, Magure T, Kandawasvika G. 'Geographical access, transport
and referral systems, Maternal and Perinatal Health in Developing
Countries', CAB International e books (2012), pp. 139-54.
- Kotwal N, Khan N, Kaul S. 'A review of the effectiveness of
theinterventions on adolescent reproductive health in developing countries',
Int J Sci Res Publ ( 2014;4:1-4).