Access to healthcare: what do we lack?

Arshiet Dhamnaskar currently serves as Director Publication Support Division of the Medical Students Association of India

Arshiet Dhamnaskar currently serves as Director Publication Support Division of the Medical Students Association of India

Healthcare has always been a concern for the world. The problems vary; by region, by country, and from person to person. The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that, globally, around 400 million people lack access to one or more health services.

Access to healthcare is a broad concept, but it basically comprises:

1. Service Availability: This involves defining a community health issue, identifying what the essential services are – the needs of the majority of people, and after having done this, developing a corresponding healthcare service that is made available to the public.

2. Service Provider: In the absence of trained personnel, the mere existence of a service is worthless. Provision of service must focus on training of healthcare workers; from doctors to nurses to ambulance drivers.

3. Service Quality: Services should be affordable, but at the same time, low prices must not mean low efficacy. All healthcare workers should be wellpaid, and equipment used should be maintained periodically.

4. Service Demand: The potential receiver of any healthcare service, should be aware of the existence of any such service and should ask for it when needed. This requires good health promotion and health literacy.

A flaw in any of these four elements would mean that the access to a healthcare service has been hampered. In developing countries, almost all of these are inadequate. There is little provision of service and there are not enough trained healthcare workers to address the large population. When availability itself is lacking, not much attention is given to the quality of the service being provided. There are instances, though, where the government of these countries do take the efforts of structuring a good healthcare delivery system. However, it is the fourth element –the lack of service demand– that comes into picture here. Such countries do not possess a stronghold when it comes to education, especially healthawareness. These may be further riddled with superstitious beliefs–taboos–that regard the diseased as outcastes.

But that is not the situation in developed countries, people are well aware of diseases, vaccinations, medicines and surgery. Yet there is still a huge problem; something that both developed and developing countries have to tackle— Finance. Healthcare is a very costintensive industry. Several people are forced into financial hardship just because of a costly treatment, and the lowincome population cannot even imagine being a beneficiary of such a treatment. The results are of course, devastating. The good news, though, is that the WHO plans to make Universal Health Coverage a developmental agenda in the coming future. This means that publiclyfunded systems or governmentprovided medical insurance schemes might come to the fore.

Such existing systems do have fallacies of their own. While these are being looked into, there’s just one thing the world can do – be smart. We must not turn a blind eye to such a situation. We must study, formulate opinions and share them with our peers. If we succeed, we shall not only have access to healthcare but an access to “smart healthcare”.

About the author:

Arshiet Dhamnaskar currently serves as Director Publication, Support Division of the Medical Students Association of India. He is also a hobbyist writer, poet and designer. His other hobbies include oration, web programming and even mu§sic. With all these skills at hand, he aims for one goal to spread ideas across the globe, to inspire people to think and to encourage them to innovate. Arshiet is a medical student at Dr. V.M. Govt. Medical College, Solapur, India.

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