Good afternoon respected judges,colleagues in the audience and my fellow contestants, my name is Dr Vrushank Naik, i am a final year resident in department of Pediatrics, in our very own KJ SOMAIYA HOSPITAL. Over these last few years of working in a hospital setup, i have come to interact with hundreds of patients and their families, many good memories and few otherwise. But it has been those few otherwise, that have stuck and made me question our role as doctors, in the society today. Do our patients consider us as healers or just gatekeepers of mortality, who put a price tag on each life. It is this sad realisation, which makes me question myself each day, Are we really Monsters, to have the power to own a life, we didn't create and sell it for inflated prices? Has man's own greed for money corrupted the basic needs of survival. With advent of technology and deeper understanding of human body, we definitely are better off than what we were 50 years ago. Science today has advanced so far that it has fed to our God-like ego, wherein we can tailor kids in petri dishes, grow organs from stem cells, have a super vision to see deep within our own body without being invasive. But all this comes at a cost. Commercialisation of healthcare has rapidly occurred over the last few decades, raising the cost of healthcare worldwide. A study done in US concluded that that population, financially in the top 1%, is expected to live until the age of 87.3 years, nearly 10-15 years longer than those in the bottom 1%.
If such is the disparity in the developed nations, consider the situation, in a country like India, wherein nearly 22 per cent of India’s 1.6 billion population is below poverty line, capped at an income of just Rs 27 per day and Let’s not forget the millions who earn even less than ₹100 per day.
The average expenditure incurred in a private facility is 6 times more than that provided by the government.
Govt hospitals aim at serving people and maintaining heath care rather than balance sheets.
A private doctor gets pay/incentives depending on the number of patient he sees or surgeries he performs, thus inadvertently introducing small scale or big malpractices to earn more.
With only 17-20% (according to 2014 survey) of the Indian population being covered by health insurances, the major brunt falls on a person’s household finances to see to it that his/her loved ones get the best possible treatment.
Don’t you think it puts a common man in a dilemma whether he should feed his family or treat them? This in turn becomes a vicious cycle of disease and poverty, a burden which the country as a whole has to suffer. So whom are we kidding when we say we got the best infrastructure and hospitals compared to few decades before if a common person cannot readily access it.
A solution if not affordable is not a solution at all.
We grew up learning that health is wealth but this unchecked commercialization of healthcare has reached a point where, we are teaching our future generations, that only wealthy are healthy, and that’s not right!
As Charles Darwin once said It’s the survival of the fittest,
lets not make it the survival of the richest.
The total expenditure of India on health care as a proportion of GDP in 2015 was 3.89% out of which, the governmental health expenditure was just 1%. On the other hand, the out-of-pocket expenditure (what patients pay directly) was 65.06%. (current healthcare expenditure). Is it really benefiting us as a society. Commercialization of healthcare has only made it clear that now Wealth is health.
(The average expenditure incurred per person in India for a hospital stay is Rs 4,452 in a government hospital and Rs 31,845 at a private facility.)
(only 10% of India’s registered allopathy doctors working in government setup, there is a massive misproportion of skilled labour tending to the healthcare needs of nearly 70% of our population. Draining of doctors away from public)
In the end all i would like to say is healthcare is a human right. Fair and equal opportunity to attain it should be each human beings birthright