In an endeavour to increase spending on public health, the Indian Government has recently set up a National Commission on Macroeconomics and Health (NCMH). The commission will assess the cost and means of funding a comprehensive health package, especially to provide free treatment for the poor population.
Set up on April 1, 2004, the commission has been set up in response to the Jeffrey Sachs Report submitted to WHO two years ago, which advocated an increase in the health expenditure in developing countries. India is one of the 15 countries to follow the report, which had recommended formation of a commission for assessment of ground situation.
A study undertaken by NCMH from June to October 2004, covering the districts of Kozhikode (Kerala), Khamam (Andhra Pradesh), Jalna (Maharasthtra), Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh, Udaipur (Rajasthan), Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh), Vaishali (Bihar) and Nadia in West Bengal, mapped the private and public health facilities in the country.
According to Dr S Nagpal, co-ordinator of the pilot study, “Based on this report, the health ministry will develop a GIS on the availability of different qualified health providers, institutions/centres, equipment etc. The GIS design has been made by National Informatics Centre.”
The study included qualified registered practitioners, including both MBBS and qualified personnel from homeopathy, ayurvedic, unani etc. The information was collected by using a comprehensive questionnaire by local agencies and then collated at NCMH.
Simultaneously, an extensive mapping of the whole country is being conducted under the National Family Health Survey, marking districts which are doing well in terms of having good health infrastructure, just coping and faring badly in green, yellow and red, respectively.