CASTLE ROCK, Colorado — Approximately 55 million Indians ended up in poverty in one year because of healthcare expenses. In addition, 38 of these 55 million found themselves in poverty simply because of medical costs. The Public Health Foundation of India conducted a study that uncovered the healthcare crisis in India. The study revealed a complex healthcare system that was not working for India’s people. Since then, multiple nonprofits and organizations have worked to improve the lives and health of Indians.
What Led to the Health System Emergency?
India faces many challenges within its healthcare system, including limited access to doctors or medical professionals, poor access to clean water, low education rates, a lack of proper nutrition and many inequitable government policies. All contributed to this significant spike in poverty.
India’s main issues are prioritizing who receives treatment, where physicians work and what facilities receive proper technology. Most of the time, the wealthier people in India receive these advantages.
A study in 2011 revealed that there are 20 health professionals available for every 10,000 citizens. Most health professionals in that group work in areas with greater access to technology, infrastructure and space to grow a family.
In 2012, a study found that only 37% of people living in rural areas had access to a hospital within five kilometers. The lack of access can mean increasing the chance of early death, malnutrition or other complications. Of the facilities available to citizens, many do not have proper equipment or practices in place.
Healthcare in India is run almost solely by the private sector. Almost 75% of expenses are paid directly by the patient, so this financial burden discourages people from seeking necessary treatment. It is also a leading cause of the healthcare crisis in India.
Access to clean water is highly under-prioritized in India. Clean water is scarce and the duty often falls on girls to collect water throughout the day. This task takes girls out of school, which puts them at risk for injury, thus putting their health at risk as unsafe drinking water would.
The sicknesses that come from a lack of clean water cost India $600 million per year
Less than 50% of people have safe drinking water
Two-thirds of India’s districts struggle with water depletion
Much of the water supply contains excess fluoride or excess arsenic
There is a lack of education in India. Although education rates have increased in recent years, there still is room for improvement. Education has a significant impact on global health. As children become informed, they also understand how to stay healthy and how they can work and make money to support healthcare expenses.
Of the girls and boys in India, 29% do not complete their elementary education
50% of children do not finish their secondary education
Malnutrition in India
Malnutrition is a constant issue for children in India. For example, malnutrition rates in India are almost double malnutrition rates in Sub-Sahara Africa. Significantly, 60 million children in India are underweight, and an estimated 75% are reported to be anemic, an indicator of malnutrition. Malnutrition contributed to the spike in poverty because it causes one to contract illnesses easily, leads to school dropouts and creates a lower survival rate because of costs and access to treatment.
Undernourished women typically cannot give birth to healthy babies, leading to a cycle of illness and malnutrition.
75% of children are anemic, and 57% of children have a deficiency in Vitamin C because of malnutrition.
An Organization Fighting for Healthcare in India
Momentum Global is a nonprofit that provides education, clean water, nutrition and medical help to people facing poverty in India. The group provides clean water through Vivoblu, a clean water social venture, has five schools, works with local physicians and provides a healthy balance of food while at any Momentum Global programs.
The organization holds medical clinics twice a week with doctors to educate people about their health and hygiene as well as providing check-ups. These medical clinics also help people and families who cannot afford healthcare and medicine to prevent illness. The hope is that the organization can help end poverty in India as soon as possible.
What Does This Mean For India?
As organizations like this continue to solve the healthcare crisis in India, the results will be evident. India’s 9.7% poverty rate should decline. Subsequently, the overall health and well-being may increase so kids will have a chance to receive proper education and thrive.
– Delaney Gilmore