GS Paper 2
Syllabus: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health
Context: As India celebrates its achievements, it must build a healthcare system that caters to tribal communities.
Since independence, India has made remarkable strides:
- As the world’s 5th-largest economy and a leader in the digital realm.
- Demonstrating the ethos of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam – One World, One Family.
- For example, through its Vaccine Maitri initiative, India provided over 60 million vaccine doses to nations across the world.
- Equitable, affordable and quality healthcare for 4 billion people.
- Finding a way to achieve this without disrupting the identities of tribals.
Healthcare issues faced by Tribal communities in India:
- They constitute 9% of the population and remain the most neglected and deprived group when it comes to access to healthcare.
- For example, the mortality rate in tribal areas is 44% higher than the national average, and infant mortality is 63% higher [Ministry of Tribal Affairs].
Reasons behind poor health indicators among tribals: They face multifaceted challenges – lack of infrastructure, medical professionals, connectivity, affordability, equipment, insurance, funding, etc.
Health schemes in tribal areas:
- The National Health Mission (NHM): It envisages the achievement of universal access to equitable, affordable and quality healthcare services that are accountable and responsive to people’s needs.
- Various initiatives supported under the NHM for better healthcare in tribal areas:
- Ayushman Bharat-Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs) are established as part of the Ayushman Bharat programme.
- National Free Drugs Service Initiative and National Free Diagnostic Service Initiative have been rolled out.
- The ASHA programme provides for recruitment of ASHA at habitation level, in hilly, tribal and difficult areas.
- National Ambulances Services under NHM for free transportation of sick patients to the health facilities.
- All tribal majority districts whose composite health index is below the State average have been identified as High Priority Districts (HPDs)
- Urgent need to empower tribal communities and ensure they receive equitable, affordable and accessible healthcare.
- This can be ensured by suitable investments (in medical colleges and training centres across such remote areas), public policy and governance.
- Empowering tribal communities must be done strategically.
- With a more communitarian social setup, an underdeveloped economy dependent on forest resources and unique geographic conditions, their health outcomes necessitate a unique approach.
- Mera Baccha Abhiyan:
- It aims to fight malnutrition through public participation in Datia district, Madhya Pradesh.
- As a result, the district witnessed a drop in malnutrition rates (by 17.5%), rise in immunisation, breastfeeding and a drop in diarrhoea.
- Piramal Swasthya – One of the largest implementing agencies of primary healthcare programmes in India:
- It has over a decade’s experience of working with the tribal communities of Andhra Pradesh, implementing its unique community-based model.
- More recently, it has partnered with NITI Aayog to transform the health and nutrition systems in 25 Aspirational Districts spread across 7 States of India.
- As India moves towards India@100, the responsibility of providing healthcare (a fundamental human right) for all lies both with private and government institutions.
- Tribal communities can be empowered by inclusive leadership and investments in healthcare infrastructure, contributing to the UN SDGs.