UPSC » UPSC CSE Study Materials » Economy » Health System and Indicators

Health System and Indicators

Private Sector Health Infrastructure: Indian Systems of Medicine (ISM), Women’s Health, Urban-Rural and Poor-Rich Divide etc.

The WHO defines health as a condition of complete physical, mental, and social well-being. Access to a variety of health services, as well as an individual’s lifestyle choices, personal, familial, and social ties, are all factors that contribute to good health. As of right now, India’s health care system is composed of both public and private providers.

Primary, secondary, and tertiary health care facilities run by state governments provide free or low-cost medical care. Private health care also exists, ranging from individual doctors and their clinics, to general hospitals, and even super-specialized facilities. 

Indian System of Medicine (ISM)

  1. Numerous people throughout the world, particularly in developing nations, rely on traditional medical systems built on medicinal plants to get their health care. Even in developed countries, there is a growing interest in and use of herbal products derived from these plants.
  2. In order to address the world’s health care demands, Traditional Systems of medicine have long played an important role. They are currently doing so and will continue to do so in the future as well. Systems of medicine that originated in India, or systems of medicine that were brought to India from outside and became a part of Indian culture, are known as Indian Systems of Medicine. 
  3. India holds the distinction of having six internationally recognised medical systems. Natural medicine, naturopathy, and homeopathy are all included in this group of therapies. Even though Homeopathy was introduced to India in the 18th century, it has become as much a part of Indian culture and medicine as any other traditional system. 

Women’s Health in India

  1. In the world, over 800 women per day die from preventable causes associated with pregnancy and childbirth. Heart attacks, strokes, and respiratory illnesses are the three leading causes of death for women in India. 
  2. The NFHS-4 in 2016 found that 53.1% of non-pregnant women and 50.3% of pregnant women in India were anemic, making India the country with the highest anemia burden despite the introduction of the National Nutritional Anaemia Prophylaxis Program in 1970 and a slew of subsequent programmes and policies.
  3. Women have been conditioned by society to have a great tolerance for stillness and patience. Despite the fact that 75 percent of the country’s healthcare infrastructure is situated in cities, and just 1.3 percent of India’s GDP is allocated to healthcare, a much lower percentage than the global average of 6 percent, women’s health is not given the top priority here. 
  4. The quality of care available to pregnant and new mothers in rural places is generally subpar, and it is not uncommon for them to be subjected to harassment and abuse during those times.

Urban-Rural Divide in Healthcare

  1. Whilst rural India’s health care infrastructure is on the right track, the quality and amount of assistance for primary healthcare facilities are well below what the World Health Organization considers adequate.
  2. There are ways to deal with this, such as by concentrating on improving the skills and building the capacity of existing rural health facilities. Health care gaps between rural and urban places are troubling. Only by focusing on rural health can we hope for a healthy India. 
  3. The healthcare sector in India receives just 1.2 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. In contrast, the United States spends more than 20% of its GDP on healthcare. Quality health care services must be made available to isolated rural areas urgently. 
  4. An urgent need exists for the current healthcare system to be transformed into a system that is accountable, accessible, and inexpensive. There are several government-run initiatives and regulations aimed at promoting a healthy infrastructure that ensures that everyone has access to medical care. However, there is a gap in procedures and new techniques that prevents modern healthcare practices from reaching India’s rural regions.

Rich-Poor Divide in Healthcare

  1. Data from the country’s largest nationwide survey on social consumption, performed between July 2017 and June 2018, shows that only 10.2% and 9.8% of the poorest one-fifth of Indians in rural and urban India have any sort of private or government health insurance.
  2. Experts say that the poor are frequently obliged to tap into their savings, borrow, delay treatment, or receive low-quality care because of their financial situation. The data showed that only 14.1% of rural Indians and 19.1% of urban Indians have health insurance of any kind. This leaves the vast majority of Indians vulnerable to financial shocks connected to health care.
  3. Over 10% of India’s population spends over 10% of their income on health care, according to a 2017 World Bank research; 3.9% of the population spends over 25% of their income on healthcare. When it comes to spending on private healthcare in low and middle-income nations, Indians rank sixth.


Both revenue and employment in the healthcare sector have grown significantly in India in recent years. Clinical trials, health insurance, hospitals, medical devices, medical tourism, outsourcing, telemedicine, and medical equipment make up healthcare. Healthcare in India is expanding at a rapid rate as both public and private players increase their expenditures and expand coverage. The healthcare industry in India has grown to be one of the country’s greatest employers and sources of revenue.