- Recently, the Oxfam India has released the 2021 edition of the India Inequality Report.
- It provides a comprehensive analysis of the health outcomes across different socioeconomic groups to gauge the level of health inequality that persists in the country.
Key Highlights of India Inequality Report 2021
It stated that India’s low spending on public healthcare systems and focus on supporting private healthcare has led to serious inequalities in access to healthcare.
- It highlighted that the states that have for the past few years been reducing inequalities, such as inequalities to access to health between the general category and SC and ST populations, have less confirmed cases of COVID.
- It also highlighted that the states that have had higher GDP expenditure on health have higher recovery rates of COVID cases.
- It stated that those in higher income brackets, and with access to health infrastructure, had to face less visits to hospitals and Covid centres than those belonging to lower income groups.
- It found out that people belonging to lower income groups also faced five times more discrimination on being found Covid-positive than those in higher income groups.
- It highlighted that India’s low spending on public healthcare has left the poor and marginalized with two difficult options i.e. suboptimal and weak public healthcare or expensive private healthcare.
- The rate of immunization of girls continues to be below that of the male child.
- The immunization of children in urban areas is more than those in rural areas.
- The immunization of SCs and STs is behind that of other caste groups.
- The child immunization of the high-wealth quintile group is much higher than that of low-wealth quintile.
Health Status of Women
- The percentage of mothers who have received full antenatal care declined from 37 percent in 2005-06 to 21 percent in 2015-16.
- The full antenatal care for urban areas is close to two times that of rural areas, and immunization among Muslims the lowest i.e. lower than the SC/ST populations.
Key Recommendations under India Inequality Report 2021
- The right to health should be enacted as a fundamental right that makes it obligatory for the government to ensure equal access to timely, acceptable, and affordable healthcare of appropriate quality.
- The free vaccine policy should adopt an inclusive model to ensure that everyone, irrespective of their gender, caste, religion or location i.e. people living in hard-to-reach areas, gets the vaccine without any delay.
- Increase health spending to 2.5 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to ensure a more equitable health system in the country.
- Regions with higher concentration of marginalized population should be identified and public health facilities should be established, equipped and made fully functional as per the Indian Public Health Standards (IPHS).
- Institutionalize a centrally-sponsored scheme that earmarks funds for the provision of free essential drugs and diagnostics at all public health facilities.
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