Pay the Doctors More, Create a Better Health Care System in India

Image showcase proactive health care system

The pandemic has brought about a lot of changes across the world. It has made the world smaller and also taught us that we need to be more integrated. In India, we have a big opportunity ahead of us. It is important for us to connect the dots and see what we need to do as a Nation to leapfrog.

A couple of my friends (one in his 30s and the other one in his 40’s) were affected by COVID last year. One of them lives in the US and the other in India. Both of them had to undergo hospitalization and each spent over 6 months in the hospital. Both of them were in very critical stages. Doctors lost hope and also asked their families to visit them one last time. My friend in the US miraculously survived after spending over 6 months in the hospital and is very thankful he is alive. His insurance covered most of the costs. However, he was complaining about how bad the health care system was in the States (he has never traveled to India). Unfortunately, my other friend in India passed away after a long fight. Not that he did not have adequate care. He would have got some of the best care in the world. There are lots of success stories in India as well.

An Indian Doctor providing health care assistance

Two of my family members needed a heart transplant. One of them lived in the UK and the other in India. Both were admitted to Government hospitals in their respective countries. The family member in the UK was able to get a heart transplant done on time and is healthy now. The other family member in India could not get the heart transplant done on time, could not afford the bills, and passed away a couple of years ago. He was in his 50’s, a hard-working construction engineer.

With so many people living in India one would naturally think doing a heart transplant in India would be much easier as opposed to the UK. However, this is not the case. Health care in India is not affordable to all. However, we cannot blame the doctors or the staff. Thanks to the Government hospitals & the tireless efforts from the doctors. The government hospitals in India have some of the best doctors in the world. By the sheer volume of patients they see, they are able to improve their expertise drastically. We also have to thank all our doctors for choosing to stay in India and serving our people here while they could earn a lot more abroad.

Providing health care assistance to an old lady

We can blame the hyper-inflated US economy, President, or whatnot. However, one thing which drives the United States forward is the system they have in place. Use the road, pay the toll. If you do not follow the rules, no matter who you are, you end up in jail or get convicted. It is not so interesting that we have not seen significant improvements with respect to all this in India over the last 25 years or so. We need to change our mindset and culture.

What can we do to improve the health care system in India? 

  1. Pay the doctors more. They deserve it.
  2. Have a protocol on who gets preferential treatment. Even if that means, the ministers, Officers of the Government and everyone working in the Government gets precedence based on their medical condition – so be it. They deserve it. However have a rule, please follow and do not break it.
  3. Make health care affordable for all.
  4. Do not crowd the cities. Decentralized development is what we need. This is already happening in a way. Let us double down.
  5. Have a culture change in the country. This needs to come from the top. All are equal. Every life matters. System matters, so there are no surprises. 
  6. Transparency in what you buy, how much you spend. Zero corruption. Eliminate it. There are much better and easier ways to make money. There is not much you can do with money anyways after a certain point. 

We do not have all the answers. However, we need to act as a country to propel India forward. It is not that difficult. Small steps in the right direction will have a compounding effect. 

Thank you for reading. 

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Karthik Chidambaram