After the tragic incident in Gorakhpur, in Nashik (Maharashtra) too, the death of 187 infants, merely in the duration of 5 months, has created a controversy and has highlighted the poor state of neonatal care in the country.
On this backdrop, Prof. S Parasuraman, Director of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) exclusively spoke with My Medical Mantra.
He emphasised on the urgent attention towards neonatal care and the more expenditure on healthcare.
TISS has been playing a vital role in healthcare policy making and also has been involved in several healthcare research projects.
Q. – At the moment, neonatal care is the most sensitive issue. Where are we lacking in this field?
– The Problem is significant proportions of girls are malnourished and stunted. As many as 20% of girls get married early and deliver a baby at the age of 15-16. Such babies weight low. It results in neonatal mortality.
At this stage, neonatal care is needed. If you don’t have a system in which neonatal care is affordable and accessible then you are going to have serious problems. We should have robust healthcare system for the neonatal level.
Q. – How can we improve our healthcare system?
– Most essential part is we need to increase the amount of spending on healthcare. There is a universal norm that at least 6 per cent of the GDP should be spent on healthcare.
We spend much lesser than that. Healthcare is the fundamental right of the people. You cannot bring private players to provide healthcare facilities to people. They mean to make the profit. In a country where 77 per cent of the population is poor or vulnerable, private sector model is not going to work.
It is important that we are able to support our people and able to bring in more resources. Also, the use of use generic medicines and traditional forms of medicines such as AYUSH should be encouraged.
Our health system is in a serious mess. We have infrastructure created from village-level to city-level, but problem is that we don’t have adequate human resources like medical doctors, nurses and ASHA workers. Unaffordability of the healthcare services is the fundamental issue.
Q. – How can more research help to find the solutions to healthcare problems?
– Enough research has been done in this field. Ours is a country, where many experiments are done. So, we have models of providing healthcare.
At the end of the day, what matters is what government does. Some good models have remained only good models.
Also, there should be continuous improvement in the skills of healthcare workers such as nurses and ASHA. So that people don’t have to travel far, for the treatment.