Corruption within India’s Public Health System
Healthcare is vital for a country and its people. It helps their well-being and helps counter issues such as the Covid-19 pandemic. The integrity and ethics of the healthcare system are also required for it to be effective. India, one of the many countries that have been devastated by the virus, has a healthcare system with corruption destroying its effectiveness.
In India, fraud and medical malpractice are common. Doctors and other healthcare practitioners will sometimes not act for the well-being of their patients. Some work for personal gain. Due to this corruption throughout healthcare, about 39 million Indians fall into poverty due to medical expenses.
There are many forms of corruption and many ways that doctors will try to gain. One of the most common ways is referrals. Medical professionals bribe other professionals to refer patients for procedures. They charge the patient and split the profits. For reference, doctors could earn 30k-40k rupees (about 480-640 USD) from referring patients for angioplasty.
Another way medical professionals can get money from referring patients is by referring patients from government hospitals to private. By intentionally damaging assets or instruments in a government hospital, thereby making them unavailable to patients, forcing them to order from a private hospital, in which profits are split.
Doctors who have access to drugs and other instruments also tend to use them for personal gain. Doctors steal these things to sell them off for profits. Another way these drugs are misused is by alternative medical practitioners, who are not even allowed to use modern drugs, who use them anyway.
India is understaffed when it comes to medical professionals, and its facilities are dysfunctional. For some doctors, they feel that corruption is the only way they could survive. Young doctors who have just received an education, are usually in debt and require the money they receive from malpractice to pay these debts off. It is also common for doctors to earn less than 10k USD a year, showing how much they find malpractice necessary for survival.
Another big issue is the lack of regulation. Many regions in India do not enforce medical regulation laws, leading to the patients suffering. Some hospitals also pay bribes to the government to be in favor of the law and not be punished for not following regulations, which are usually not enforced anyways.
India’s healthcare system is full of corruption and with the current pandemic, its poor condition is exposed. Hospitals are dysfunctional, understaffed, and aiming to make profits rather than help the people of India. With better education and more doctors and stronger regulations and better enforcement, India can find itself combatting the virus better.