'Women, children at receiving end of poor healthcare system'

'Women, children at receiving end of poor healthcare system'
Women and children continue to bear the brunt of India’s poor healthcare delivery system, the 2016-17 Economic Survey has reaffirmed. While reviewing three health indicators, the Survey found that most states performed poorly on the infant mortality rate (IMR) reduction when compared with international standards. But that was not the case in other two health indicators – life expectancy and fertility.

“Children and women perhaps bear the burden of deficient systems of health delivery. The IMR has scope for improvement in most of the states. Also this is consistent with last year’s Survey findings,” the new report said. This suggests that the steps taken to improve women and child healthcare schemes by the Union health ministry have failed to meet the target audience in the last 12 months.

“With regards to life expectancy, the Indian states are close to where they should be, given their level of income. However, this is not true of IMR, suggesting that the ‘mother and child’ bear the brunt of weaker delivery of health services,” it said.

Decline in fertility rate
“What really stands out in the international comparison is fertility and how much better the Indian states are performing than their international counterparts on that metric. This unusual large decline in fertility has strong and positive implications for India’s demographic dividend going forward,” it added.

The findings come days after some of the world’s top policy makers wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressing their concerns over the government’s failure to implement universal health coverage.

“India has made good progress in improving some health indicators in recent years, particularly concerning infectious diseases, but that many of its people still lack effective health coverage,” wrote the Elders, which include Kofi Annan, former secretary general of the United Nations, and Gro Harlem Brundtland, former director general of the World Health Organisation.
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