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ET EDIT-Health Index a Handy Tool for Governance

June 27, 2019 06:43 AM


Health Index a Handy Tool for Governance
The state of India’s health continues to remain poor despite gains made in life expectancy and maternal and child mortality, reveals the second edition of the Health Index produced by NITI Aayog. There are wide variations in the state of health across the country, and high-performing and improving states are not registering gains under all parameters. What the index makes clear is that governments, both central and state, need to spend a lot more on health, and on sanitation, drinking water supply and air quality.

The Health Index ranks states on health outcomes, in terms of neonatal mortality, immunisation coverage, total fertility rate and notification of TB, governance (information flow and data integrity) and delivery infrastructure, including fund flow under National Health Mission. To ensure better comparisons, states are classified as large and small. Union territories are a third category. Kerala tops the overall performance list countrywide, and Mizoram, the best-performing small state. Uttar Pradesh scores at the bottom. However, when it comes to incremental change, top performer Kerala, and a third of the states, have slipped, while UP and Jharkhand have improved, helped by their low base. The factors leading to slippage in the better performing states vary. A common culprit is the state of healthcare services and delivery, while missing personnel and functional cardiac care units adversely affect health outcomes.

The index is a useful tool as it helps identify the problems as well as the success stories and provides an opportunity for states to learn from one another’s successes as well as failures. Improving healthcare infrastructure and increasing the numbers of qualified health personnel must be taken up as a priority at the national level.

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