India’s Perspective in 2021 for Agenda 2030

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Rutvik Raval, a final year medical student from B.J. Medical College, Gujarat, India. He is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

A weird incident made the headlines of a local newspaper in India, a 30-year-old female delivered a baby girl but couldn’t pay her medical bill. The hospital administration quickly discharged her. Without her baby. No money, no baby, the hospital said. When she returned the following day with the cash, hospital officials initially said they couldn’t find her baby. The story is an example of an infamous problem in India.

The right to Health is a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Still, many people in this developing nation don’t have the privilege to practise it. Amidst pandemic, it’s even tougher! Who to blame for this? The paucity of Healthcare professionals, lack of infrastructure or the blooming population standing the second largest across the globe. Actually, it’s all collective.

By endorsing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, the world community reaffirmed its commitment to Sustainable Development. SDG 3 intents to achieve universal health coverage, that seeks equitable access to healthcare services to all men and women. It aims to end the preventable death of new-borns, infants and children under 5 (child mortality) and end epidemics. Sub target 3c talks about health-care workers (HCWs), to boost the advancement, recruitment, training and recognition of the health workforce. A new element to the SDG narrative: money spent on health, of which HCWs are an outsized recurrent component, should not be seen as an expense, but rather an investment in prosperity and sustainable growth.

An illustration shows that: investing in midwives would yield a 16-fold return on investment in term of lives saved and costs of caesarean sections avoided; health-care employment has a significant growth-inducing effect on other sectors; and health-sector employment remains stable or grows even during recessions as general unemployment rises, contributing to the resilience of national economies and benefiting women. 

In every crisis, there’s an opportunity to engage, innovate, and connect. The pandemic has impacted the collective conscience of people on how important it is to have a robust healthcare ecosystem. The heroism, dedication and selflessness of medical staff has shown that frontline healthcare workers are no less than soldiers.

India is going to double its expenditure on healthcare in the next 3 years. The necessity of the time is to reinforce the provisioning of healthcare services through public-private partnerships. While the healthcare segment has been a key focus area and part of the country’s development plan through various comprehensive initiatives including Swachh Bharat, Ayushman Bharat, National Digital Health Mission and now ‘Mission COVID Suraksha’, there is much more to be done to make healthcare affordable, accessible & available. The target is to achieve “Health for all.”

About the author

Rutvik Raval is a final year medical student from B.J. Medical College, Gujarat, India. He is a member of Medical Students Association of India (MSAI) and strongly believes in making a difference together. He is an avid learner with an inquisitive mind, and a strong believer of `mens sana in corpore sano,’ a roman proverb meaning ‘A healthy mind in a healthy body’.

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