With a massive population exceeding 1.3 billion people, the healthcare system in India is tasked with providing care to the large rural and urban areas of the country. The dichotomy between quality of care in rural and urban is one of, if not the largest challenges that India’s healthcare system faces. The contrast between quality of care in India’s rural and urban areas, as well as India’s status as a developing nation has resulted in initiatives aimed at elevating quality of care and access to healthcare.
Arvind Kasthuri does an excellent job highlighting the current challenges to delivering healthcare in India. These five challenges are dubbed the five “A’s”:
- A lack of awareness – which is affected by education and economic status, in addition to poor prioritization of maintaining personal health.
- A lack of access – which includes limited financial access and quality of healthcare, particularly in rural areas. Furthermore, the ability to access a healthcare facility within 5km from a place of work or residence is a major impediment to healthcare access in rural areas in India.
- Absence – characterized by a lack of healthcare workers able to deliver care to the general population
- Affordability – particularly to rural areas which may not be able to afford care. Despite issues with affordability to rural areas, India is a very popular location for medical tourism due to their advanced facilities, skilled doctors, and affordable treatments in urban areas.
- A lack of accountability
According to 2019 estimates from LSI’s Global Procedure Volume Tracker, the top three procedure categories, by total procedure volume, in India were:
- Obstetrical and gynecological procedures – 18.2 million procedures
- Urological procedures – 12 million procedures
- Ophthalmological procedures – 9 million procedures
Overall, LSI projects that there will be over 45 million surgical procedures performed in India in 2019.
Several factors are positively influencing surgical procedure volume growth in India. Population projections estimate that the population of India will surpass China within the next decade. Overall life expectancy has also increased in India as living conditions continue to improve. A large population that is living longer are two factors that have a strong, uplifting effect on surgical procedure volumes in India. Indians gaining access to, and spending more money on healthcare services also positively influence surgical procedure volume growth. Data from the World Bank shows healthcare expenditure has steadily recovered from a decline in 2013.
Current health expenditure (% of GDP) – India
Source: The World Bank
LSI’s Global Procedure Volume Tracker projects procedure volume growth for over 200 procedures, offering country-specific and global insights on trends in surgical procedures. Surgical procedure volume growth shows no signs of slowing down, as healthcare providers in developed and developing nations are tasked with meeting the increasing demand for care.
The next installment in this series will look at surgical procedure volume trends in Japan.