Can a deliberate effort to enhance India's healthcare system provide some balance, with many service industry giants such as the IT and telecom sectors floundering in performance and job generation metrics?
Affordable and accessible healthcare services are essential for human survival. A country's overall economic prosperity is heavily influenced by its population's health. Every citizen of India should have access to basic healthcare facilities as it is necessary for survival. It should be compulsory for every state to provide primary healthcare services to citizens without any discrimination. As "lifestyle" ailments such as diabetes and cardiovascular difficulties become more prominent, the demand for better secondary and tertiary services is increasing. The sector demands specialized and highly skilled resources as the focus shifts to service quality, particularly with the increased demand for tertiary and quaternary care. According to a report by KPMG, one physician requires the assistance of 5-6 minor level employees/nurses in order to run a successful operation and deliver quality health care services. Hence, in order to achieve the goal of "affordable healthcare," it is essential to employ enough people who could help in providing affordable health facilities. The question here is, does our healthcare sector possess enough employment generation potential? Well, this article might answer this question and give an avenue to ponder upon.
The Indian health care sector is expanding in all areas in order to bring health care services closer to the country's ordinary people. It is anticipated that by the end of 2022, it would have grown to USD 372 billion in terms of expanded medical supplies, improved employment prospects, and massive governmental and private sector expenditures.
In India's healthcare industry, the government is responsible for providing primary health care, while private participants in the sector, most of whom are concentrated in Tier I and Tier II cities, are responsible for secondary and tertiary care. Policymakers would be generating innovative employment channels in their efforts to bridge the gap in the requirement for competent healthcare professionals (doctors, nurses, and other medical and nonmedical employees employed within the sector).
Among all other industries in India, the expanding healthcare sector is the fifth largest employer. It provides both direct and indirect employment opportunities. Since 2016, India's healthcare sector has grown at a compound annual growth rate of 22%, making it one of the largest sectors in terms of income and job prospects. The amount of money flowing into the healthcare sector from both the private and public sectors has expanded dramatically, and the sector is predicted to directly employ 7.5 million people by 2022. The healthcare business encompasses a wide range of jobs, from general medical stores to diagnostic laboratories, and is not limited to doctors and nurses.
Women are often referred to as "strength pillars." Gender bias is also reduced in the healthcare sector, according to a 2016 WHO study on the High-Level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth. It claims that the healthcare sector has hired a large number of women and has increased the female labor force participation rate by creating a space and boosting the capacity for women to generate employment.
The next question that needs to be answered urgently is, 'How does the healthcare sector respond to an economic shock?' Such situations of crisis can quickly become impediments to progress. Constant low budgetary allocation towards the health sector made it worse for the country to handle the situation during the 2020 pandemic. The pandemic, triggered by the advent of a novel coronavirus, initially wreaked havoc on India's healthcare infrastructure. The current labor market's shortage of job options has made finding excellent work challenging for millions of people. The private sector stepped in to assist the government with testing, medical supplies, and isolation camps, thereby contributing specialized and skilled resources. Due to high operating expenses and inadequate revenue generation, the unemployment trap was generated. As the virus spread briskly and the number of Covid-19 cases multiplied day by day, there was a shortage of healthcare workers.
By 2025, the Indian government intends to expand investment in the healthcare sector to 2.5 percent of GDP. As a result, the government boosted its budgetary allocations to the healthcare sector by 137 percent from FY 2020-21 to FY 2021-22. The establishment of schemes like Ayushman Bharat and the National Digital Health Mission has aided in the accomplishment of the 'Health for All' goal. The Ayushman Bharat scheme was started with the goal of establishing 1,50,000 health and wellness centers that would offer people primary healthcare (maternal, child health, and non-communicable diseases). Each health and wellness center will require a mid-level health provider to manage the center, which means that this scheme alone will lead to job creation for 1,50,00 mid-level health providers. Poshan Abhiyan aspires to create a grassroots movement for holistic nutrition. The Pradhanmantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana makes medicines more economical in pharmacies across the country. The National Tobacco Control Program, the Pulse Polio campaign, and the national immunization program are among the others.
Hence, the healthcare sector can be an 'employment generator 'if treated and operated well. It would be critical to train individuals who can fill the jobs that the burgeoning healthcare sector necessitates if the sector is to become a job creator. Expanding the scope of medical education may have an impact on persons moving from the unorganized to the organized sectors of the economy.
Hospitals, medical devices, clinical trials, outsourcing, telemedicine, medical tourism, health insurance, and medical equipment are all part of India's healthcare sector, according to the IBEF (India Brand Equity Foundation) As a result, expanding the healthcare industry from a job standpoint will increase employment in other areas. A comprehensive approach to policymaking, including bringing in private players to provide better services, increasing budgetary allocation, and improving access to quality education and skill-building schemes pertaining to the sector, is pivotal for not only improving the overall state of the healthcare sector but also creating an adequate number of jobs.
Written by: Unnati Tolani (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Edited by: Amogh Sangewar