Pointing out to the inadequacies of the current healthcare policies, Nobel laureate and renowned economist Amartya Sen said that lack of political will was responsible for the country’s failure to provide affordable healthcare to all. Sen was speaking at Tata Memorial Centre’s platinum jubilee celebrations on the topic of ‘Healthcare for All—Why and How’.
Sen expressed his concerns about the increased privatization of health services, which he believes is resulting in exploitation of the poor, as such people are unable to afford the high cost of treatment at private hospitals. He said that the share of private players in healthcare was significantly high in India, even more than what has been the trend in developed countries.
Sen pointed out that India’s ranking in healthcare was abysmally low, and that countries like Nepal and Bangladesh were doing better in certain health parameters. He called the country’s current healthcare system as a “striking failure”, wherein the poor have hardly benefitted from economic development. Sen said that India spends a mere 1.3% of its GDP on healthcare whereas China spends about 3%. Sen urged the general public, media and leaders to take up the issue of healthcare more seriously and work towards increasing the spending on public healthcare services.