THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 11 January 2020 (For universal access to healthcare (The Hindu))

For universal access to healthcare (The Hindu)

Mains Paper 2: Health
Prelims level : Ayushman Bharat scheme
Mains level : Accessibility of Universal health coverage


  • Most middle-class taxpayers in private jobs are stuck between the devil and the deep sea when it comes to accessing quality, and yet affordable, healthcare.
  • Their faith in government hospitals is eroding, and dependence on expensive private hospitals is increasing.

Coverage of Ayushman Bharat scheme:

  • The government claims to cover 50 crore poor people under the cashless health insurance scheme Ayushman Bharat, officials say a much lesser population is being tracked in urban areas because of lack of proper addresses in the Socio-Economic Caste Census.
  • The rest of the population, except government employees, are bereft of any government sponsored health cover or subsidy.

Challenges for achieving Universal Health Coverage:

  • In 1948, the World Health Organisation had enshrined ‘Universal Health Coverage’ — which means quality health services provided at affordable costs — as a fundamental right of each citizen.
  • Seventy-two years have passed without that becoming a reality in India, even as the country acceded to this in 1979 and hence making it obligatory to progress towards the goal.
  • To expand the health net, the government will also have to increase its healthcare budget, which is currently around 1.5 per cent of GDP.
  • As per the government’s own reckoning, the budget has to be scaled up by 26 per cent year-on-year to achieve a target of 2.5 per cent of GDP by 2025.

Way ahead:

  • As the government aims at ushering in universal health coverage, it has not charted a way forward yet.
  • The biggest hurdle to universalising access to health is improving and regulating the quality of care.
  • In the event of non-upgradation, taxpayers may have to pay up but not get care in their choice of hospital.
  • This apart, doctors themselves are the biggest roadblock, as they oppose implementation of The Clinical Establishments Act, which aims at regulating the quality of care.
  • While funds for schemes can gradually be figured out, improving and regulating the quality of care is a bigger issue.
  • Without addressing this, talking about access to healthcare is futile.

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Prelims Questions:

Q.1) With reference to the infant mortality rate (IMR), consider the following statements:
1. The infant mortality rate (IMR) in the country currently stands at 53 per 1,000 live births.
2. According to the National Family Health Survey-4, only 78.9% births in India happen in a facility.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: B
Mains Questions:
Q.1)To achieving the Universal Health Coverage, India must first improve and regulate the quality of care. Elucidate the statement.