ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Out-of-pocket Expenditure on Healthcare among the Urban Poor in India

Focus on healthcare patterns and their determinants among the urban poor is crucial in order to move towards universal health coverage. However, published literature on these aspects in India is scarce. This study was undertaken to estimate out-of-pocket healthcare expenditures and resultant...

Need for a Strong and Reliable Statistical System in India

The evolution and organisation of the Indian statistical system is reviewed with particular emphasis on social sector statistics. In the light of recent experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic, some evident lacunae in the system of collecting, synchronising, and disseminating data from diverse sources are discussed. The critical need for better financing of the statistical agencies, facilitating homogeneous integration between different agencies, and promoting transparency, accountability, and autonomy of the statistical system are highlighted as key priorities.

Migrant Workers and the Politics of Mental Health

The roping in of tertiary care mental health institutes by the government in providing individualised (tele) counselling services to migrant workers needs to be viewed with caution. Instead of acting as a catalyst in upholding the dignity and human rights of migrant daily wage workers who were left high and dry, mental health practice, shaped by political and institutional influences, provided “counselling” to lakhs of people who bore the brunt of governmental apathy during the pandemic crisis.

COVID-19: Mental Healthcare without Social Justice?

Mental health is not just about absence of mental illness. It is critical that the government takes long-term economic and mental health policy measures to ensure employment, basic amenities and public health, without which mental healthcare cannot address the debilitating effects of ongoing structural violence on a majority of citizens.

Our Essential Workers Need Essential Care

Through personal interviews of healthcare workers in India, the state of front-line workers in dealing with Covid-19 in the country is discussed. Lack of personal protective equipment and beds as well as the caste system that operates when it comes to doing cleaning work in the hospitals aggravates the already debilitating condition of healthcare personnel. Despite being the most important stakeholders of health in rural areas, the accredited social health activists are leading a life full of struggles.

Wet Markets and Food Laws in India: What is Needed to Ensure Safety and Hygiene?

There is a growing worldwide clarion call for a ban on wet markets and meat consumption, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Do wet markets in India pose a risk to food safety? Are our food laws efficient and effectively implemented? The article discusses various laws and regulations, such as Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Slaughter House) Rules, 2001 and various local municipal laws that are meant to ensure safety and hygiene of our food and markets.

Child Protection and Preparedness in COVID-19 Epoch

The COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdown has meant immense hardship for many sections of society. For children, and especially those from the marginalised communities, the impact has been harsher. They will also face increased risks and hardships in the post-lockdown period. A look at what can be done to deal with these hardships.

Underestimation of the COVID-19 Burden

The number infected with SARS-CoV-2 in early May in India is estimated by a method utilising the unequivocal number available, namely deaths due to COVID-19. The estimated numbers are far in excess of reported numbers and indicate the systemic flaws in reporting deaths in India, augmenting the extent of underestimation. Additionally, there is the overestimation of the doubling time of infection. A realistic picture of the epidemic at the community level is presented, which informs us about the level of preparedness required to deal effectively with the epidemic.

Social Security for Migrant Workers during COVID-19

The unprecedented public health crisis due to COVID-19 has thrown the vulnerability of migrant construction workers into sharp relief. Most of them are not enrolled in any social protection scheme, and those who are, have been only provided with contingencies. These measures are inadequate to address the multidimensional deprivations and fundamental causes of vulnerability arising due to globalisation and a changing labour market, which has been exacerbated by the current crisis.

COVID-19 and Dwindling Indian Federalism

One of the many effects of COVID-19 pandemic disaster is also visible on legislative, executive and financial federalism in India. The constitutional mandate for functioning of centre on behalf of states has been missed and recourse to disaster has been taken to undertake unified but unconsented measures.

Measles-Rubella Vaccine

The mandatory measles–rubella (MR) vaccination drive initiated in schools by the Indian government in October 2019 has raised questions regarding whether informed consent was sought from parents prior to vaccination and its legal implications. This article presents a comprehensive picture of informed consent processes, ethics, and the law, and the need for evidence prior to implementing national vaccination policies. In the case of a combination vaccine such as the MR vaccine, we see that the rubella vaccine gained entry to India’s universal immunisation programme (UIP) without clear scientific evidence on its disease burden and in the absence of public demand for such a vaccine by piggybacking on another universal vaccine (measles).

Decoding Ayushman Bharat

The challenges before the components of Ayushman Bharat, the (ir)rationality behind raising the insurance coverage manifold are highlighted, a political economy narrative of the changing health financing scenario is drawn, and how the design of Ayushman Bharat will feed into executing the proposed public–private partnership model in public facilities and facilitate the strategic purchasing agenda of the National Health Policy is examined. Ayushman Bharat is a step towards creating a system that would facilitate in relinquishing public funds and public institutions to already dominant private players, which will have serious implications for the healthcare delivery system in India.

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