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- India meets the global average in number of physicians, but 74 per cent of its doctors cater to a third of the urban population, or no more than 442 million people, according to a KPMG report
- As technology increasingly plays an important role in healthcare, the data indicate growing attention from private investment and start-ups
- Individual states are adopting technology to support health-insurance schemes
June 12, 2017: India added 450 million people over the 25 years to 2016, a period during which the proportion of people living in poverty fell by half. This period of rising prosperity has been marked by a “dual-disease burden”, a continuing rise in communicable diseases and a spurt in non-communicable or “lifestyle” diseases, which accounted for half of all deaths in 2015, up from 42 per cent in 2001-03.
The result of this disease burden on a growing and ageing population, economic development and increasing health awareness is a healthcare industry that has grown to $81.3 billion (Rs 54,086 lakh crore) in 2013 and is now projected to grow at 17 per cent by 2020, up from 11 per cent in 1990.
As that happens, in rural areas, mobile technology and improved data services are expected to play a critical role in improving healthcare delivery. Although limited, some companies are also investing in innovative services and creating lucrative yet low-cost digital and device solutions, an example of which would be GE Healthcare’s Lullaby Baby Warmer.
However, despite some advances, India’s healthcare sector must deal with a plethora of challenges.
With the lowest government spend and public spend, as a proportion of gross domestic product (GDP), and the lowest per capita health spend — China spends 5.6 times more, the US 125 times more — Indians met more than 62 per cent of their health expenses from their personal savings, called “out-of-pocket expenses”, compared with 13.4 per cent in the US, 10 per cent in the UK and 54 per cent in China.
India’s existing infrastructure is just not enough to cater to the growing demand.
While the private sector dominates healthcare delivery across the country, a majority of the population living below the poverty line (BPL) — the ability to spend Rs 47 per day in urban areas, Rs 32 per day in rural areas — continues to rely on the under-financed and short-staffed public sector for its healthcare needs, as a result of which these remain unmet.
Moreover, the majority of healthcare professionals happen to be concentrated around urban areas where consumers have higher paying power, leaving rural areas underserved.
India meets the global average in number of physicians, but 74 per cent of its doctors cater to a third of the urban population, or no more than 442 million people, according to a KPMG report.
India compares unfavourably with China and the US in number of hospital beds and nurses. The country is 81 per cent short of specialists at rural community health centres (CHCs), and the private sector accounts for 63 per cent of hospital beds, according to government health and family welfare statistics.
Some of the key roadblocks, then, for India’s healthcare industry:
— Population: India has the world’s second-largest population, rising from 760 million in 1985 to an estimated 1.3 billion in 2015.
— Infrastructure: The existing healthcare infrastructure is just not enough to meet the needs of the population. The central and state governments do offer universal healthcare services and free treatment and essential drugs at government hospitals. However, the hospitals are, as we said, understaffed and under-financed, forcing patients to visit private medical practitioners and hospitals.
— Insurance: India has one of the lowest per capita healthcare expenditures in the world. Government contribution to insurance stands at roughly 32 per cent, as opposed to 83.5 per cent in the UK. The high out-of-pocket expenses in India stem from the fact that 76 per cent of Indians do not have health insurance.
— Rural-urban disparity: The rural healthcare infrastructure is three-tiered and includes a sub-center, primary health center (PHC) and CHC. PHCs are short of more than 3,000 doctors, with the shortage up by 200 per cent over the last 10 years to 27,421.
There are, however, potential catalysts to improve the quality of healthcare in India.
The Union Budget 2017-18 includes measures to boost rural development, infrastructure and macro-economic stability, and although the health budget has been increased 27 per cent, allocations could have been matched more holistically with the government’s ambitions, particularly when considering adjustment against inflation and new health-programme announcements.
Analysts argue that the national insurance scheme (the Rashtriya Swasthya Suraksha Yojana) is a minor improvement on the existing one, with the annual limit per family increased from Rs 30,000 to Rs 100,000, with an additional “top-up” of Rs 30,000 for senior citizens. Our estimates suggest that enrolling all BPL families in the country in health-insurance programmes would cost anywhere from Rs 2,460 crore to Rs 3,350 crore, or less than the cost of two French Rafale fighters.
Information Technology (IT) is set to play a big role with IT applications being used for social-sector schemes on a large scale. Hospitals empaneled under the government insurance scheme are IT-enabled and connected to servers in districts. Beneficiaries can use a smart card that allows them to access health services in any empaneled hospital.
Additionally, several new computer and mobile-phone based e-health and m-health initiatives were launched on World Health Day in 2016. These include the Swastha Bharat mobile application for information on diseases, symptoms, treatment, health alerts and tips; ANMOL-ANM online tablet application for health workers, e-RaktKosh (a blood-bank management information system) and India Fights Dengue.
Individual states are adopting technology to support health-insurance schemes. For instance, Remedinet Technology (India’s first completely electronic cashless health insurance claims processing network) has been signed on as the technology partner for the Karnataka Government’s recently announced cashless health insurance schemes.
As technology increasingly plays an important role in healthcare, the data indicate growing attention from private investment and start-ups.
The government’s National Innovation Council, which is mandated to provide a platform for collaboration amongst healthcare domain experts, stakeholders and key participants, should encourage a culture of innovation in India and help develop policy on innovations that will focus on an Indian model for inclusive growth.
Additionally, there has also been an emergence of “frugal innovation” in the private sector — products and business models that offer quality diagnostics and care at a much more affordable price.
Healthcare delivery in India is now uniquely poised to undergo a change at all its stages — prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. No single entity in the healthcare sector can work in isolation.
The evolution of the sector calls for involvement from all stakeholders and the use of innovation to bridge intent and execution. India has the opportunity to leap-frog a lot of the healthcare problems that developed nations are grappling with, such as unlinked electronic medical records and overspending.
The question is, can she seize the opportunity? (IANS)
A Travel Sustainable badge, provides highly coveted information to travellers all over the world looking to make more sustainable travel choices. Booking.com has launched the Travel Sustainable Badge, a first of its kind in the industryNinety-eight per cent of Indian travellers say they want to stay in a sustainable accommodation in the coming year, and with more than 28 million listings on Booking.com, the company sees a huge opportunity to highlight more of the impactful efforts its partners are making to create more sustainable experiences, making it easier for travellers to find a sustainable way to stay.
Booking.com has launched the Travel Sustainable Badge, a first of its kind in the industry | Photo by yousef alfuhigi on Unsplash
With 88 percent of Indian travellers indicating that they would be more likely to choose a specific accommodation that implements sustainable practices, it rewards and encourages providers to take the next steps on their individual sustainability journeys. "Building a truly sustainable travel industry will take time, coordination, and concerted effort," said Marianne Gybels, Director of Sustainability at Booking.com. "However, progress is possible through continued innovation, partner support, and industry collaboration."
"We are recognising the sustainability efforts of a broader range of properties globally in a credible and transparent manner for consumers." Displaying the practices they have in place allows everyone to make a more informed and hopefully more sustainable decision for their next trip, no matter where they want to go. As a result, we've inspired even more of our partners to take the next step toward more sustainable operations."
(Article originally published on IANSlife) (IANS/MBI)
Keywords: travel, sustainable travel, india, travellers, innovation.
South Korean game developer has introduced a new initiative for Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI) which will enable a new level of parental control via time limitations and OTP confirmation. The 'Game Responsibly' initiative will also show warning messages along with break reminders, game limits and more. "Every player, below the age of 18, needs to register a parent or a guardian before they start playing for the first time. An OTP will be sent to the registered person's number, post which the minor is allowed to play the game," the company said in a statement.
Some games can get intense and make players lose track of time. However, with timely break-time reminders, the developer has made sure players get the required downtime. These reminders will help them look up from their game and get back to real life, maintaining a healthy game-life balance. In addition, with a strict gameplay limit in place players below 18 years must not indulge in gaming for more than 3 hours per day. This automatically helps them treat gaming as an activity performed in moderation.
The brand has also set an in-game daily spend limit of Rs 7,000 that automatically stops them from overspending and overgaming. Krafton recently announced that it has removed 25 lakh accounts in just over a month to eradicate cheating on Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI). Since the last announcement, between October 1 and November 10, Krafton banned 25,19,692 accounts permanently and 7,06,319 temporarily. "The company has cleaned out most of the cheaters in the game, making BGMI a much more fun experience, and will continue to take whatever step is necessary to keep BGMI fair and fun," it claimed. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: BGMI, parental control, Battlegrounds Mobile India, Krafton, South Korea
By Vinoda Kumary
The rise in air pollution, coupled with lousy lifestyle habits, is causing a spike in respiratory diseases. According to a Lancet report, the contribution of chronic respiratory diseases in India increased from 4.5 per cent in 1990 to 6.4 per cent in 2016. With respiratory issues on the rise, there is an increased demand for natural solutions to treat such issues. Instead of conventional medicine, people are turning to alternative medical therapies to find cures for ailments.
Common Lung Disorders
Bronchitis is a health condition that causes inflammation in the airways of the lungs. This leads to narrowing of the air pathways and excess mucus causes wheezing, coughing and difficulty breathing. It is a chronic condition that interferes seriously with daily life.
Bronchitis is a health condition that causes inflammation in the airways of the lungs. | Wikimedia Commons
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
It is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that obstructs the airflow to the lungs. Symptoms of COPD include breathing difficulty, mucus (sputum) production, coughing, and wheezing. It can result from long-term exposure to irritating gases or particulate matter, most often from cigarette smoke. Those affected by COPD are at an increased risk of developing lung cancer, heart disease, and a variety of other conditions.
Symptoms of COPD include breathing difficulty, mucus (sputum) production, coughing, and wheezing. | Pixabay
This is another variation of COPD. Bronchitis causes a similar build-up of mucus that can cause inflammation and coughing. The lungs' airways are constantly inflamed as chronic bronchitis often lasts for months on end. Symptoms of chronic bronchitis include incessant coughing, whistling sounds while breathing, wheezing and a tightening of the chest. It is said that the cure for all ailments is available the natural way. Here are some of the alternative medicine approaches to treat respiratory disorders.
This is another variation of COPD. Bronchitis causes a similar build-up of mucus that can cause inflammation and coughing. | Needpix
Alternative Medicinal Approaches to Treat Respiratory Disorders
Asthma is one of the most common lung diseases. One of the primary causes of asthma is allergies, which often result from the food consumed. It is crucial, therefore, to first prepare a diet that is suitable for an individual. Often, dairy products, meats, and certain nuts can increase the production of mucus. Foods like these must be avoided. Also, antioxidants can prevent damage resulting from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Diet is important in this regard, as fruits and vegetables high in Vitamins A, C, and E can improve the condition of COPD patients.
Diet is important in this regard, as fruits and vegetables high in Vitamins A, C, and E can improve the condition of COPD patients. | Photo by Bruna Branco on Unsplash
Yoga and Exercise
Treatment of lung disorders often involves the use of the lungs to promote healthy breathing habits. Exercises like cycling, swimming, yoga etc. that create a need for full capacity breathing are of great importance. Exercising the diaphragm is important and simple activities can go a long way in the treatment of the same. Pranayama, the practice of controlled breathing, is an integral part of alternative treatment for people suffering from respiratory issues. This extensive breathing practice helps to expand the lungs and improve the capacity of the lungs, which helps an individual breathe more freely.
Treatment of lung disorders often involves the use of the lungs to promote healthy breathing habits. | Photo by kike vega on Unsplash
Nasal irrigation systems like JalNeti using a Neti pot can help to rinse the sinuses, which may provide some relief from symptoms of respiratory allergies.
Nasal irrigation systems like JalNeti using a Neti pot can help to rinse the sinuses, which may provide some relief from symptoms of respiratory allergies. | Photo by CDC on Unsplash
The traditional Chinese practice of acupuncture involves inserting thin needles into the skin to stimulate certain parts of the body. According to a study published in the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, people with allergic rhinitis who were given acupuncture treatments twice a week for eight weeks had fewer symptoms than those administered placebo.
People with allergic rhinitis who were given acupuncture treatments twice a week for eight weeks had fewer symptoms than those administered placebo. | Photo by Katherine Hanlon on Unsplash
It is important to remember that no one complementary or alternative therapy works well for everyone with respiratory issues. Therefore, a proper assessment is done before deciding on the approach to the treatment plan. For those considering alternative medicine for their respiratory problems, it is recommended to speak to an expert first and discuss the approach that may work best.
(Article originally published on IANSlife) (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Yoga, exercise, Nasal Irrigation, Diet, Chronic Bronchitis, Respiratory Issues