Health Dimensions Of Development
It is widely recognised that the health status of the people of a country is as important as their economic status. The role of the government in providing adequatehealth services which are accessible and affordable to all sections of its populationis of critical importance. However, the comparative advantages enjoyed by thegovernment in meeting the task entirely on its own is limited as also the resourcesat its command. This brings into focus the need for an appropriate policy frameworkwithin which both sectors of health service providers viz. the public and the privatesector, can function efficiently. Further, like in the field of education, the demandfor health services is also dual in nature. Vast sections of the population in developingcountries, who are poor and live in rural areas with severe infrastructuralHealth Economics6inadequacies, require special attention. Many of the diseases they suffer from arerelated to the lack of provision of safe drinking water. The crucial responsibility ofthe government is therefore to provide the weaker sections of the population withbasic primary health services. While this is a fundamental necessity, facilities forspecialised health care also need to be established in easily accessible locationsthrough public funding in which the government has to take the lead. The morewell-to-do sections of the population require health services of a different kind. Astheir affordability is higher, they can plan for even their future health uncertainties.The growth of health insurance market under the market economic systems isrelated to this aspect of higher affordability by a growing class of high incomeearners in the cities. The nature of political system, i.e., whether it is state dominatedsocialistic form or the market oriented capitalistic form will, to a large extent,determine the nature and extent of public-private mix in health services. Technologicaladvances in the field of medical science makes the issue of economics of healthservices dynamic in nature. When new diagnostic procedures and treatments becomeavailable in the market they are usually expensive and beyond the reach of largesections of the society. They remain unaffordable, even for the relatively better offsections of the population, without some form of subsidy/insurance coverage. Withtime and wider adaptation, their costs will come down although they continue toremain outside the capacity of large sections of the population. Establishing a policyframework by which health infrastructure is so developed that an effective balanceis maintained between basic health services and specialised services by an efficientpublic and private sector coexistence is a major challenge for the governments.Such a policy environment should particularly ensure the concerns of equity so thatthe facilities of health care do not exclude the weaker sections of the society. Thebenefits of a healthy population are enjoyed by the society at large just as the ill-effects of diseases left unattended/cured permeate across the affected-unaffectedpopulation divide. Issues of health planning, its economic dimensions in terms ofdemand and supply factors, interaction of the insurance sector with medical market,principles underlying the public-private co-existence, etc., are some of the aspectsto which the present unit relates.