New Delhi: Raging controversies around some private hospitals in national capital region (NCR), allegedly billing exorbitantly, also threw into stark relief the utter inadequacy of public health system in India.

In a corporate hospital in Gurgaon, the bill against the treatment of 7 year child suffering from dengue, who ultimately died, amounted to Rs 15 lakh. The same happened in another big hospital in Gurgaon. Besides public outrage against those hospitals, the grim episodes flew into the face of the central government whose primary duty is to provide affordable and quality healthcare to people who cannot afford costly treatment at private hospitals.

The apologists of private hospitals insinuated and rightly so, that had government hospitals been in good shape, the situation would not have occurred. Health policy experts aver that only a robust public healthcare can provide common people the affordable healthcare. But given the meagre government expenditure, public healthcare can not measure up to this task.

In the midst of these controversies, J P Nadda, Union Health and Family Welfare Minister, reiterated in December the commitment of increasing government’s total health expenditure to 2.5% of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025, from the current 1.15%,. He also promised that more finance would be available for the states to achieve Universal Health Coverage.

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