NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 5, 2008

In India, an individual's position on the social ladder shapes to a large degree the kind of health care they receive and the kind of health they are in, says the New York Times.

For example:

  • A government-sponsored National Family Health Survey released last fall says a woman born in the poorest 20 percent of the population is more than twice as likely to be underweight than one in the richest quintile, and 50 percent more likely to be anemic.
  • For children, the poorest quintile is more than twice as likely to be stunted, a function of chronic malnutrition, and nearly three times less likely to be fully immunized.

India has a countrywide network of government-funded primary health centers and hospitals, but staffing, medicines and resources vary widely:

  • The Planning Commission of India this year found that in government-run health centers, 45 percent of gynecologist posts and 53 percent of pediatric posts went unfilled.
  • Salaries for government doctors at public hospital are a mere fraction of those at new private hospitals.

The differences between India's private hospitals and government-funded public hospitals are acute, says the Times:

  • Services at private hospitals include access to dieticians and dermatologists, and carpeted, wood-paneled private rooms containing cable TV, computers, and even refrigerators.
  • However, government hospitals often lack even the most basic medical equipment, such as intensive care units, ventilators, dialysis machine, and equipment to conduct blood tests.

Source: Somini Sengupta, "Royal Care for Some of India's Patients, Neglect for Others," New York Times, June 1, 2008.

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