Health – A Critical Socio-Economic Need
Health is a fundamental human right – critical for human dignity and essential for socio-economic growth. Be it Nobel Laureates Amartya Sen or Robert William Fogel, economists have consistently postulated that a healthy population is the engine of economic growth. The World Health Organisation states that “the highest attainable standard of health is a fundamental right of every human being.”
The right to health includes access to timely and affordable healthcare of appropriate quality. Statistics highlight that a large proportion of the global population is unable to enjoy this right. About 100 million people globally are pushed below the poverty line due to healthcare expenditure every year. Across the world, 1.3 billion people have no access to effective and affordable healthcare. Low and middle-income countries bear 93% of the world’s disease burden, yet account for only 18% of world income and 11% of global health spending. Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) kill 40 million people each year, equivalent to 70% of all deaths globally. A study by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), in conjunction with the World Economic Forum, indicates that non-communicable diseases alone will cost India INR 126 trillion (roughly US$ 2.3 trillion) by 2030 — an amount that is 1.5 times India’s annual aggregate income and almost 35 times India’s total annual health spending.
Health and healthcare is a community issue. An integrated approach incorporating an action plan, with clearly defined roles and responsibilities for everyone, would set the direction for a change in culture – a culture in which health is the priority and denial of healthcare is not accepted as inevitable for many. This change in culture must pervade the consciousness of everyone and must result in every individual adopting healthy lifestyle, as also opting for preventive healthcare and early intervention.