Health Minister, India

India ranks 127 amongst 177 countries with regards to the Human Development Index. India spends just over 1% of it's total GDP on Health. This is equal to Rupees 160 (just over 3 Euro's) per head per anum. India's low health spending means India ranks an abysmal 171 out of 175 according to 2004 UNDP report.

Union health secretary J V R Prasad Rao explains what this skewed funding pattern means for India’s people: “With the funding so low, we can either fund doctors or get medicines or provide support services. We cannot take care of all this.”

80% of the population lives in rural areas, but 80% of health provision is urban. Over 85% of health provision is through private enterprise.

To make matters worse - immoral and unethical practices are a norm within the health sector. Unfortunately for a private medical practioner, earning a decent living (comparable to otherprofessionals from IT / MBA sector) is impossible without being a part of such corruption. The latter includes giving kick-backs to referring colleagues. Often this leads to quick & dirty ways of earning money i.e. 'sham' or 'unwanted' procedures. The other option is to consider working in public hospitals where you could get paid just as much as in a call-centre. In contrast salaries of those working in BPOs / software industry are 2-3 times higher.

The Medical Council of India currently functions only as a registration body. Once registered the MCI has no idea about the whereabouts of a doctor. Further it has no teeth and is unable to curb curruption and unethical practices including those carried out by quacks.

We, the undersigned, agree and request the Health Minister of India to implement the following:

1) The Indian Health Expenditure should increase several fold in the coming years. Mr Chidambaram raised it by 22% in 2006, but we need an assurance that this will happen each year until India's Health Spending matches the average for other countries.

2) The Medical Council of India should be provided with extra funds and powers to tackle corruption. It should be able to ensure that uniformity exists in provision of education & training as well as quality of patient care across the country.

3) Like UK, a mandatory health insurance i.e. a small percent of one's earnings should be deducted at source from salaries. An individual may be allowed to choose to have private health cover instead, provided the insurance company pays 10% (or an appropriate amount) to the National Health Budget. Like pension schems, investing in health insurance should be linked with tax rebates.

5) The above is in keeping with the recommendations made in the World Bank Report 'India Raising the Sights:
Better Health Systems for India’s Poor, November 3, 2001.

Further it is hoped that other recommnedations made in this document are implemented as well.

4) Salaries for Medical Practitioners across the country should be uniform and at par to other professions (like IT/MBA).

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The India's Health Sector petition to Health Minister, India was written by A Joglekar and is in the category Health at GoPetition.