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At 1.28% of GDP, India’s expenditure on health is still low although higher than before

National Health Profile data, released Wednesday, says cost of treatment has been on the rise in India, which has led to inequity in access to healthcare.

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New Delhi: India just spends a little over 1 per cent of its GDP on public health despite an increase in health expenditure since 2009, according to the latest National Health Profile (NHP) data.

The annual data released by the government Wednesday said India spent only 1.28 per cent of its GDP (2017-18) as public expenditure on health. The figure was 1.02 per cent of the GDP in 2016-17.

While India’s per capita public expenditure on health has increased more than twice from Rs 621 per person in 2009-10 to Rs 1,657 in 2017-18, it still remains very low compared to other countries. The United States spends the most on public health — 18 per cent of its GDP, which is over USD 10,000 (nearly Rs 70,000), per person a year.  

The Narendra Modi government has aimed to raise expenditure on public health services to 2.5 per cent of the country’s GDP by 2025.

The NHP data also shows that the cost of treatment has been on the rise in India, which has led to inequity in access to healthcare services.

The Central Bureau of Health Intelligence (CBHI), which functions under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, has been releasing the NHP data every year since 2005. 

The CBHI collects data from the Directorate of Health and Family Welfare of all 36 states and union territories, central government organisations, national health programmes and various other national and international agencies concerned.

Also read: India committed to increase overall health allocations to 2.5% of GDP: JP Nadda 

Pneumonia took maximum lives in 2018

The data revealed that pneumonia is the top “communicable” disease, which took maximum lives in 2018 (30 per cent), followed by acute respiratory infection (27 per cent), acute diarrhea (10.55%) and swine flu (8 per cent).  

Other top “communicable” diseases that took most lives include typhoid, hepatitis and encephalitis. 

The data also stated that popular “communicable” diseases such as malaria, kala-azar, dengue, chikungunya are registering a fall in India.  

In 2018, the maximum number of cases and deaths due to malaria have been reported from Chhattisgarh — 77,140 cases and 26 deaths.

“The overall prevalence of the disease has diminished in 2012 and 2013. However, there is a slight increase in 2014 and 2015, and again started decreasing from 2016,” the report stated. 

Bihar accounts for the most number of kala-azar cases. In 2018, of the total 4,380 cases in the country, 3,423 cases have been reported from the state. 

Chikungunya cases have shown a slight decrease in 2018 as compared to 2017.  

There has been a considerable decrease in the number of swine flu cases and deaths in 2014 as compared to 2012 and 2013. While the number of cases and deaths have drastically increased in 2015, it decreased in 2016, but again increased significantly in 2017 and 2018.

Rise in chronic non-communicable diseases

The NHP data highlighted that “decline in morbidity and mortality from communicable diseases National Health Profile 2019 have been accompanied by a gradual shift to, and accelerated rise in the prevalence of chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs).”

The top NCDs in India are cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cancers, mental health disorders and injuries. 

Out of over 6.5 crore people screened at government clinics, the data showed, a majority were diagnosed with hypertension (blood pressure), followed by diabetes, heart disease, strokes and common cancers.  

“6.19 per cent are diagnosed with hypertension, 4.75 per cent of people are diagnosed with diabetes, 0.30 per cent are diagnosed with cardiovascular diseases, 0.10 per cent are diagnosed with stroke and 0.26 per cent are diagnosed with common cancers,” the report stated.

Also read: How many benefitted from Modi govt’s maternal healthcare scheme? Minister, ministry differ


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