Over 60 million people in India have diabetes
Sakshi Kuchroo | March 31, 2016 | New Delhi
WHO representative to India, Dr Henk Bekedam, on Thursday said that the alarming rise in diabetes in India was related to government’s low investment in healthcare.
“Over 60 million people in India have diabetes. The government of India doesn’t invest enough in the health sector and when you look at it from the global perspective, it shows that they definitely can do more. The amount they invest is very low from a global perspective. If the government wants a sustainable economic growth, they need to focus on a healthy population,” he said.
He was speaking at a WHO briefing on diabetes in Delhi on Thursday. Officials from the WHO and ministry of health and family welfare (MoHFW) also spoke on the occasion.
Mentioning that the life expectancy in India (around 67%) is lower than the neighbouring countries, he said “So if people are dying of diabetes, then it is not only an enormous loss for the family but also an economic loss for the society.”
Responding to Dr Henk’s views, Dr Damodar Bachani, deputy commissioner, MoHFW, admitted that the spending on health sector was quite low. He said that of the claimed 4% of GDP spent on the health sector, the governments – state and the centre – only contribute 1% while 3% comes from the public’s pocket.
“So, we have to increase the bar. If we increase it from 1% GDP to 2% or 3% GDP, the amount public is spending will come down,” he said.
Dr Bachani also said that the second challenge for health sector is to ensure that the allocations are utilised efficiently to benefit the masses. “It is for the government to decide whether they want the money to be utilised in screening or medicines or balance it between the both,” he added.
Bachani said that states were not investing enough in the health sector and they tend to focus more on reproductive child health and reduced mortality etc. He said the priorities at the state level have to undergo metamorphosis to bring a change in the healthcare system.
Bachani said government also does not allocate enough on non-communicable diseases [NCD] like diabetes.
He said, “From the 1% GDP that we get, the portion we are getting for treating NCDs is very less, much lesser than what the departments get for communicable diseases or HIV Aids. We should get more share for NCDs which is not happening,”
Dr Fikru Tullu from WHO said that the undiagnosed diabetes in the rural areas of India is being neglected. He said “There is a need to create awareness about diet and physical activity through mass media and other means, and also provide access to insulin and other essential medicines for diabetes in rural areas.”
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