Lack of medical funds poses challenge in fight against coronavirus: Fitch
Continued lack of medical funds and healthcare infrastructure, despite additional funding, poses challenges in mounting an effective response against the coronavirus outbreak, according to a report.
"The continued lack of medical funding and healthcare infrastructure inform our view for the potential epidemic to be worse in India if it is not adequately contained. With 8.5 hospital beds per 10,000 population and 8.0 physicians per 10,000, the country's healthcare sector is not equipped for such a crisis," Fitch Solutions said.
Moreover, the significant inefficiency, dysfunctioning, and acute shortage of the healthcare delivery systems in the public sector appear to be insufficient to match up with the growing needs of the population, it said.
Fitch Solutions noted that more than 80 percent of the population still does not have any significant health insurance coverage and approximately 68 percent of the Indian population has limited or no access to essential medicines.
"In addition, over the last two decades, the availability of free medicines in public healthcare facilities has declined from 31.2 percent to 8.9 percent for inpatient care and from 17.8 percent to 5.9 percent for outpatient care, according to a Public Health Foundation of India study," it said.
India has seen its number of cases increase rapidly, it said, adding that the number of cases is expected to continue to rise, driving demand for healthcare services.
According to Fitch Solutions, India's fiscal deficit in 2020-21 may shoot up to 6.2 percent of the GDP from 3.5 percent government estimate as a fallout of the COVID-19 economic stimulus package.
With businesses disrupted due to the lockdown and its ripple effects, revenue will come under "heavy pressure" and may force the government to look towards additional borrowing and/or a higher central bank dividend to fund its expenditure, it said.
(Disclaimer: Additional background information has been added to this PTI copy for context)