NEW DELHI: Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad on Monday said the government is committed to provide affordable healthcare for all and would make available free generic drugs at all public health facilities to reduce financial burden on the patients.
Addressing the National Consultation on Social Determinants of Health, Azad said the government, under the 12th Plan, would strive to reduce social inequities not only in the healthcare system but also in other sectors. Azad said that the healthcare system and health status of population were still overwhelmed by inequities related to accessibility and affordability. About 70 per cent of out-of-pocket expenditure on healthcare in India is on drugs. “If it means investing more for the poorer segments of society, we shall do it. If it means challenging the biases against the marginalised segment of society, we shall do it. If it means reducing out-of-pocket expenditure on healthcare for the people who cannot afford it, we shall do it,” Azad emphasised. The social determinants of health are the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age, including the health system.
Social determinants of health such as poor economic status, lower social status, unemployment, under-nutrition, unhealthy environment and poor access to health system contribute significantly to premature deaths and diseases, particularly among vulnerable groups such as women, children and minority groups.
Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare S Gandhiselvan said, “Although there have been substantial advances in life expectancy and disease prevention, the health systems provide little protection against financial risk, and most importantly there is widespread inequity in the health status of the population.