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Private healthcare can't improve public health: Amartya Sen

Kolkata, Feb 18 , 2013 (IANS)

Nobel laureate Amartya Sen Monday said that there was a "costly misunderstanding" that private healthcare can improve public health in India.

"When the rest of the world has moved ahead, public health in India has remained stationery. Public health in the country is so alarmingly poor that we immediately need a fresh approach," Sen said during an interactive programme here.

"While the public health system has not received the priority it deserved, there is a debilitating illusion, a nasty and costly misunderstanding, that somehow private health care system can come in and bridge the gap," said the noted economist.

Saying that the private healthcare system was accessible only to the rich, Sen advocated immediate allocation of more funds to the public health system and called for a declaration of universal health care in the country.

"While India spends only 1.2 percent of its GDP to public health, China spends around 2.7 percent. Most countries spend much more, bringing to the fore the very little commitment to public health by our own government.

"Unless there is a basic foundation of public health care system, private healthcare cannot succeed. It has not happened in other countries including the rich and the developed, it will not happen in India," said Sen.

He was also critical of the "lack of professionalism" in the medical profession and said there was a steady tendency of turning the noble profession into a business.
While he advocated the legislation for a right to health, Sen said such a legislation alone would not improve the health scenario in the country.

"Unless there is solid foundation of public health system backed by greater governmental funds, public health in the country will not improve," added Sen.

--Indo-Asian News Service
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