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India scores poorly in Lancet health quality list

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A Lancet ranking of 194 countries places India 154th in terms of “healthcare access and quality”

India is  behind much-less-developed countries in healthcare, according to a new study published by The Lancet.

India places 154th of 195 countries in a “healthcare access and quality index” drawn from The Lancet ‘s 2015 Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study. Whilst improvements have been made since 1990, the study indicates India still has a long way to go before it can realise healthcare targets.

India ranks in the third tier of countries, with a cumulative score of 45. The score is calculated by tracking death rates across thirty-two diseases that are preventable with the appropriate medical score. Each individual score comes out between 0 and 100, with 100 being the best and 0 the worst.

India scored just 31 in 1990, so its new rank is an improvement. However, it is an improvement of just thirteen points – one it has taken the country 25 years to achieve.

India’s highest score is diphtheria (98) and its lowest is neonatal disorders (14). One area where India is ranked very low is tuberculosis (TB), with a paltry score of 26. This seems yet another roadblock in the government’s ambition to end TB in India by 2025, following on from news earlier this month than an eighth of TB cases in the country will be multidrug-resistant by the year 2040.

Neighbouring countries such as Bangladesh, Laos and Myanmar outrank India on the index. Even war-torn countries such as Iraq and Syria place higher on the list.

A conclusion to be drawn from the study is that high levels of economic development in a country do not necessarily translate to health and wellbeing for its people. India is one of the world’s fastest growing economies, yet access to healthcare is still pitifully limited for many of its citizens.

These two states of being are at stark odds with one another – and shows that, for all the gains it has made, India remains a country of contrasts and sharp divisions when it comes to the health of its citizens.

The Lancet study can be accessed here.

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