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A K Shiva Kumar

The Neglect of Health, Women and Justice

A report on the 2013 deliberation of the Kolkata Group at its 10th workshop which focused on healthcare, the status of women and social justice in India.

Inequities in Access to Health Services in India: Caste, Class and Region

Despite India's impressive economic performance after the introduction of economic reforms in the 1990s, progress in advancing the health status of Indians has been slow and uneven. Large inequities in health and access to health services continue to persist and have even widened across states, between rural and urban areas, and within communities. Three forms of inequities have dominated India's health sector. Historical inequities that have their roots in the policies and practices of British colonial India, many of which continued to be pursued well after independence; socio-economic inequities manifest in caste, class and gender differentials; and inequities in the availability, utilisation and affordability of health services. Of these, critical to ensuring health for all in the immediate future will be the effectiveness with which India addresses inequities in provisioning of health services and assurance of quality care.

Why Are Levels of Child Malnutrition Not Improving?

Results of the recently released third National Family Health Survey carried out in 2005-06 reveal that 46 per cent of India's children under three years are underweight. The NFHS-3 clearly shows limited progress in ensuring universal health services and care to children under three years of age (especially to newborns) and to mothers and women. Preliminary results confirm the continuing neglect of health, inadequate reach and efficacy of health and childcare services.

Budgeting for Health

The announcement of the National Rural Health Mission and the commitment in the recent budget to increase allocations for health are necessary steps in the right direction to correct India's shockingly poor health record. As national and state level strategies unfold over the coming months, a vigorous and informed public discussion is needed to create a national consensus for dramatically increasing investments in health with concurrent improvements in accountability and management of the healthcare system. Equally important is induction of a cadre of village-based health activists, all women, who will link communities to an upgraded public health system. These women should emerge as the missionaries dedicated to advancing health in India. Money, medicines and medical facilities will be meaningless without these missionaries. Finally, flexibility, innovation, focus, inclusion and openness must become essential features of the functioning of the National Rural Health Mission in its endeavour to provide good quality healthcare for all