Q) As and when we emerge on the other side of the pandemic, bolstering public health-care systems has to be the topmost priority for all governments. Discuss.

Why this question?

Issues of current importance 

Key demand of the Question 

Importance of an efficient public health system in a country and ways to achieve that


Discuss- back up the answer by carefully selected evidence to make a case for and against an argument, or point out the advantages and disadvantages of the given context and finally arrive at a conclusion.


Introduce by giving statistics about the expenditure on the healthcare sector in India and compare with other countries.


In the first part, highlight the issues plaguing the Indian healthcare system. Use statistics from different reports if possible.

In the next part, highlight the measures that need to be taken to plug in the loopholes in the healthcare sector.


Conclude with a way forward.

Model Answer

India is currently dealing with the second wave of the COVID19 pandemic and the possibilities of a third wave are quite high. However, due to the limited health expenditure the Indian response towards the pandemic has not been up to the mark. India spent 1.8% of its GDP on health in FY 2020-21 and 1-1.5% in the previous years.

Issue plaguing the healthcare system in India

  • Inadequate availability of healthcare services including both public and private-
    • India currently has one doctor over the population of 1,445 against the WHO norm of 1:1000.
    • There are 75 nurses/lakh population while the desired number is 255. 
    • There are geographical variations in availability of health services with most of the states in the north having poor health facilities.
  • Quality of healthcare services-
    • The Regulatory standards for public and private are not adequately defined and ineffectively enforced. 
  • Majority of the population faces problems in affording health care especially in tertiary care and most of the expenditure on health is out of the pocket expenditure.
  • Amidst all this, health care costs are expected to rise as-
    • With rising life expectancy, a larger proportion of the population will become vulnerable to chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). 
  • Public expenditure on health care in India is abysmally low (1-1.8% of GDP).
    • OECD countries’ average is 7.6% and other BRICS countries’ average is 3.6%.

Measures to be taken

  • Effective implementation of the existing schemes like NHM, Aayushman Bharat, RSBY, etc.
  • Adopting a bottom-up approach towards a public health system with districts as the fundamental unit.
  • Increasing the public expenditure towards healthcare.
  • Investment in R&D focusing on the healthcare sector.
  • Increasing the number of medical personnel at all levels.

Smaller ‘patchwork’ efforts at health systems strengthening are not enough. It is time for us to bring in as much change as possible, and dismantle older structures and processes that have hindered our public health system for years. Nurturing an Atmanirbhar health system in India needs bold reforms.