Increase budgetary allocation to healthcare sector

With one of the worst indicators in the world, India’s healthcare sector needs urgent treatment. Accounting for just 1 percent of the GDP, the country’s healthcare spending is one of the lowest in the world while maternal and infant mortality rates and deaths due to non-communicable diseases (NCD) are among the highest. According to the latest report by the World Health Organisation (WHO), over 66 percent of all deaths in India can be attributed to non-communicable diseases, with cardiovascular diseases accounting for 28 percent of these deaths and chronic respiratory diseases 12 percent. In 2019, India had one of the highest death rates from chronic respiratory diseases. Tobacco use, unhealthy diet, harmful use of alcohol, physical inactivity and air pollution are the main risk factors contributing to these conditions. Increased public investments to prevent and treat these diseases can reap major economic benefits for society.
Over 60.46 lakh people died due to NCDs in 2019 in India and the probability of 30-year-old-people in the country who would die before their 70th birthday due to NCDs is 22 percent, while it is 18 percent in the global level. The WHO report is a grim reminder of the true scale of the threat posed by NCDs. The clock is ticking towards the 2030 deadline for achieving the sustainable development goal target to reduce premature mortality from NCDs by one-third. Currently, India is very far off-track. Over 25.66 lakh deaths in 2019 in the country were due to cardiovascular diseases while 11.46 lakh deaths were due to chronic respiratory diseases. Cancer led to 9.20 lakh deaths, while 3.49 lakh deaths in the country were attributed to diabetes. The pandemic has exposed India’s creaky healthcare facilities and abysmally low public spending. The budgetary spending on the healthcare sector must be increased substantially and immediately.