Disparities in Health Care

 The issues around health infrastructure and access to facilities have gained momentum in the Covid-19 pandemic. Health plays an integral part in human development. WHO defines health as “A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. 

Better health is important to human happiness and well-being. Everybody knows the importance of healthcare these days, given the pandemic situation. But an important question that needs to be addressed is that does everyone have access to healthcare facilities? 

Access to quality health services is imperative for prevention and treatment of diseases. The National Family Health Survey (NFHS) of 2005-2006 reveals that 58.2% women from the rural areas belonging to the age group of 15-49 are anaemic. Sanitation and hygiene are crucial to maintain good health. As per the survey of 2005, only 30-35% rural households have access to proper toilet facilities. 

Access to safe drinking water is another major problem in rural areas. In many areas, safe drinking water from tap, borewell, pipeline or pump is not available. The people of these areas travel for hours to access drinking water. Lack of water or exposure to unhealthy drinking water can affect the health of the people. 

The disparity between rural and urban health infrastructure was evident in the NFHS. Mortality of infants and children in the rural areas is about 50% more than that of the urban areas. People from the rural areas spend far less on healthcare facilities. According to a report by the National Commission on Macroeconomics and Health ( NCMH), 80% of the health infrastructure, medical manpower, and other health resources belong to the urban areas. The socio-economically weaker people from the rural areas are the most affected by the highly expensive healthcare and lack of infrastructure. 

The rate of malnutrition in rural areas is alarming. There is a glaring difference between rural and urban healthcare which is evident from the rate of  Anemia, disability, death rate, birth rate, infant mortality rate, maternal mortality rate, life expectancy, total fertility rate, communicable diseases, sanitation and hunger. The National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) was launched in 2005, with the aim to provide equitable, accessible and affordable quality healthcare to the rural population. It focuses especially upon the vulnerable groups. NRHM aims to improve the Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent health services. 

Poor health leads to lower productivity and deprivation among the people of rural areas. Poor health care is a constraint in the process of development. Effective implementation of the healthcare schemes is necessary to uplift the facilities and make healthcare accessible to the people residing in the rural areas. 

As the famous saying states "Health is Wealth", health and development have a positive correlation. Therefore it is crucial to develop the health facilities in order to eradicate the rural-urban divide and develop rural India.