(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
January 31, 2010
Sixty Years of the
its readers on the occasion of
All ancient civilisations consider the completion of 60 years – Sashtipoorti - very auspicious. This signifies the resolve for continuing to live healthily. The quality of life, thus, assumes greater importance than longevity. It is, therefore, an appropriate occasion to assess the health of our nation measured by the quality of life of our people.
customary address to the nation on the
eve of the Republic Day, the president of
Tragically, this has to begin on an ominous note. A Planning Commission study completed in May 2009 on the basis of surveys conducted in several villages showed that health care expenses were responsible for more than half of all people declining into poverty. On the basis of the National Sample Survey Organisation's (NSSO) data for 2004-05 (unfortunately, the latest year for which such data is available), it is estimated that an additional 39 million people were pushed into poverty due to health care expenses in that year alone.
years of neo-liberal economic
reforms, alongwith all other public services, health care in our
been increasingly privatised. While public spending on health care has
around a measly 1 per cent of the GDP, private spending has grown
4.2 per cent of GDP. It is estimated
that more than 70 per cent of entire health expenditure in
Based on data
for 2007, the UN Human Development
Report has shown, amongst others, a decline in
The liberalisation pundits often scoff at such data and argue that faster the economy grows, the faster would be the reduction in poverty. The prime minister himself, recently, has been very defensive about this logic and was on his back foot expressing grave concern at the insignificant reduction of poverty levels.
The myth of a
stronger economy and a faster
growth rate leading automatically to better health for its people has
exploded, once again. The current
pre-occupation of President Obama for his new health care policy was
the fact that nearly 16 per cent of the
spending nearly a fifth of its huge
national income on health care (huge profit avenues for private capital
insurance companies), USA's overall
health indicators are worse than neighbouring socialist Cuba
which has a
one-twentieth per capita income. Between
1955 and 2008,
This can only be understood by capitalism's inexorable drive, more pronounced under globalisation, to reduce all public utilities into commodities in the pursuit of its raison d'etre - profit maximisation. Capitalism has little need for commodities like health, education, sanitation etc which have an irreplaceable `use value' determining the quality of life of human beings. Capitalism needs to convert these `use values' into commodities with `exchange values' that generate profit.
Thus, growth per
se does not guarantee better health
people. Reliance on private capital to
provide health care can never improve the situation for the vast
such investments pursue profit maximisation, not social benefit. What is required is a political will and a
social commitment to vastly enhance public expenditures in health care.
UPA-2 government is serious about heeding the advise of president of
pressure through popular mobilisations
must be brought about to force the government to adopt such a course in
interests of our country and people.
This is the only way that