KOCHI: Considering the growing trend of dependence on specialist doctors, there is a need to redefine the role of primary health centres and block primary health centres to suit the current context and environment, say social researchers.
A survey conducted by the Kochi-based Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR) revealed people depend more on private sector for healthcare and the amount spent by a household to avail of private services is almost 24 times more than what is spent for public healthcare services.
“Advanced medical care, reliability and friendly conduct of doctors and staff are the main reasons behind city residents choosing private hospitals over public health centres. It’s essential to improve the public healthcare system through active intervention of LSG bodies. This will enhance the overall efficiency and revive the lost glory of the state-sponsored healthcare system,” the study suggested.
The survey was conducted among households in Panangad, a city suburb, and Kaloor. The combined average expenditure of a household on private and public healthcare services is Rs 4,928 per month in Kaloor and Rs 2,886 in Panangad, respectively. This shows the healthcare expenditure in urban area is almost 71 per cent higher than that in rural area. The difference in expenditure incurred is not for treating the same type of diseases, but the expense borne by the households under different healthcare systems.
The proximity of the facility in rural areas and friendly conduct of doctors and staff in the urban region are key factors that prompt people to choose private hospitals. While reliability comes third in urban centres, conduct of doctors and staff is the third reason in the rural areas. The main source of healthcare expenditure is out-of-pocket expenses, which constitute 84 per cent of the total average expenditure.
“The government should push for more health insurance schemes, particularly among low-income groups, to lessen the financial burden arising out of treating critical illnesses. The main obstacles for the penetration of health insurance schemes are the expensive policies, lack of awareness about the policies and complicated procedures,” said Martin Patrick, CPPR chief economist, who led the study.