Thursday, January 05, 2006

Privatization of the Health Sector

The health of nations: seeking a way forward [The Hindu : Opinion]

An article in Hindu by P.Sainath about the state of the health sector and its privatization. There is a lot of noise to privatize the section when there is very little to privatize anyway!
One misguided notion is that great changes in rural health can be brought about "without substantial increases in public fund allocations." All it needs is that mantra, "public-private partnerships." Odd, since there is very little that is public left in the sphere of health care. Since public spending is a mere 0.9 per cent of GDP. Down there with the worst levels in the world.


Out of curiosity I checked the Union budget for the last 10 years, which is online at (http://indiabudget.nic.in/). I tallied the total expdenture per year in three sectors: health, agriculture and defence and following are the graphs for them. While the percentage expenditure on defence has grown with an increase in yearly expenditure, that of the health and the agriculture sector has remained more or less constant.

Was not able to get health sector data for the year 1996-1997 so reported as zero.



Note: I have plotted the Total Expenditure Budget numbers, which might not capture the total amount spent in each sector and hence Sainath reported 0.9% of GDP on health, whereas the number reported below is closed to 0.8 percent.

But nevertheless, the plots give a clear indication of trend and scale of investment in terms of total annual expenditure in each of the sectors. Instead of privatizing the 0.8-0.9% expenditure on health and agriculture, if we decrease 1% out of the massive 17% defence spending and we would double the expenditure in the much required health or agriculture sector.

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