This is the time to look back at the weak links of our healthcare ecosystem as exposed by the pandemic and take steps to cover the gaps in infrastructure, facilities and financial provisions in the upcoming budget. The major challenge that needs to be addressed through infrastructure is the rural-urban divide in healthcare. Despite about 75% of Indian population residing in rural areas, the healthcare concentration is heavily skewed in the urban areas. The absence of hospitals and qualified doctors in the rural areas results in patients from all over the country travel to major cities and incur a lot of additional expenses as well as loss of wages for the patients’ attendants. This is where the delivery of health services in the rural areas through e-health/e-medicine and other such technology driven means is going to play a transformational role. To make this happen, the government must ramp up the medical as well as training infrastructure in a big way. The best and fastest way to ensure quality healthcare access in the rural India is through e-health/e-medicine services. Funds must be allocated towards skill development of teachers, nurses, paramedical staff and caregivers. Further, by making budget allocations for development of telemedicine and home-based healthcare ecosystem in the country, it is possible to best harness the available resources to cover the whole country. This can be done through a public-private partnership in a speedier and more effective manner. Through development of an alternate on-demand home healthcare system, we can reduce the burden on institutional healthcare. Investing in out-of-home healthcare is less cost-intensive than building and maintaining new hospitals, and the system can leverage available resources to cover a much larger number of patients and healthcare seekers.
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