Among the health indicators, India has a significant increase in life expectancy since the 1970s for both genders. The death rate in India was recorded at 7.3 for every thousand inhabitants as of 2016. At about two children born per woman in 2016, the country’s birth rate was 18.6 for every thousand inhabitants. Infant mortality has been on a steady decline through the years () with a scale up of special newborn care units, routine immunization and increased access to basic infrastructure. This is a remarkable leap forward because of female infanticide and gender-selective abortions regardless of gender determination being illegal.
Child malnutrition in India is considerably high, home to over one third of the world’s children. This is largely prevalent in rural areas due to low socio-economic statuses if not poverty. Hunger is a major nationwide concern, despite measures taken by the government to address the problem. Recent economic growth has increased rates of chronic diseases. This duality has led to the co-emergence of malnutrition and over-nutrition. Malnutrition is at its highest in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Bihar, while obesity mainly in Punjab, Kerala and Delhi.
Indian healthcare is constitutionally the responsibility of the state governments. The National Health Policy focuses on four main components including the burden of non-communicable diseases, emergence of healthcare and incidences of expenditure due to healthcare costs. In practice, the health policies and laws have helped the private sector take over the market, with well-designed public health programs that have gross accessibility and affordability limitations. The price of quality healthcare makes public ones the poor Indian’s choice, while private hospitals make up 58 percent in the country. Out-of-pocket payments make up about 75 percent of total healthcare expenditure, speaking volumes about the state of health insurance for Indians.
Public-private partnerships in various sectors of the health market starting from free mid-day meals in schools to counter hunger to the Ayushman Bharat – an ambitious healthcare project aimed to provide insurance will probably take years to show any real change. Whether its healthcare, its finances or the pharmaceutical aspects of this industry, they are all rooted in deep and complex webs of social and religious stigmas. The area and geography, along with the cultural history that governs society in each region and sub-region, along with the network of political and economic intricacies make achieving a healthy India a massive challenge.