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AN OPPORTUNITY TO RESHAPE HEALTH CARE

Focus: GS-II Social Justice

Introduction

  • Indian health care has been increasingly privatised over the last few decades which has led to intense market competition.
  • COVID-19 has led to a dramatic reduction in the numbers of patients seeking care which is especially true of planned, non-urgent problems including procedures and surgeries.
  • Procedures such as knee replacements or cosmetic surgery, which some argue reflect supplier-induced demand, have almost stopped.
  • Even emergency medical cases have declined during the lockdown, with a decrease in the cases of heart attacks or strokes presenting to hospitals.

‘Cut Practice’ Concern in the medical practice

  • ‘Cut practice’, with doctors and hospitals prescribing tests, drugs, referrals and procedures in return for commissions, is entrenched in India.
  • This leads to significant negative consequences, be it increased patient expenses, patients not reaching the right doctor or not getting the appropriate investigation, and also an erosion in the doctor-patient relationship and the image of the fraternity.

The two sides to the churn

  • The COVID-19 epidemic has centre-staged the need for a robust public health system and increased investment.
  • The breakdown of overburdened health-care facilities, negative impact on the morale of health-care workers, and the collapse of private sector institutions (under financial strain) are all real.
  • With hospital and doctors incomes falling during the pandemic, there may be a resurgence of unethical practices with a vengeance as the industry tries to make up its losses.
  • The epidemic’s ‘positive’ impact may be the circumstantial curb on unwarranted medical practices.
  • The medical fraternity in India has risen admirably to the challenge of COVID-19 and Public respect for the profession has also improved.
  • If we can seize this chance to correct undesirable practices it will help build up the trust in the doctor-patient relationship.

-Source: The Hindu

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December 2022
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