“Successive Governments of India have promised to transform India’s unsatisfactory health-care system, culminating in the present government’s promise to expand health assurance for all. Despite substantial improvements in some health indicators in the past decade, India contributes disproportionately to the global burden of disease, with health indicators that compare unfavourably with other middle-income countries and India’s regional neighbours. Large health disparities between states, between rural and urban populations, and across social classes persist. A large proportion of the population is impoverished because of high out-of-pocket health-care expenditures and suffers the adverse consequences of poor quality of care. Here we make the case not only for more resources but for a radically new architecture for India’s health-care system. India needs to adopt an integrated national health-care system built around a strong public primary care system with a clearly articulated supportive role for the private and indigenous sectors. This system must address acute as well as chronic health-care needs, offer choice of care that is rational, accessible, and of good quality, support cashless service at point of delivery, and ensure accountability through governance by a robust regulatory framework. In the process, several major challenges will need to be confronted, most notably the very low levels of public expenditure; the poor regulation, rapid commercialisation of and corruption in health care; and the fragmentation of governance of health care. Most importantly, assuring universal health coverage will require the explicit acknowledgment, by government and civil society, of health care as a public good on par with education. Only a radical restructuring of the health-care system that promotes health equity and eliminates impoverishment due to out-of-pocket expenditures will assure health for all Indians by 2022—a fitting way to mark the 75th year of India’s independence.”
Progress in global health: Obstacles, innovations and India in focus
Peter Berman, professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, explores where the chief disparities lie in global health, and explains why now more than ever there is a need for smart investment. Shamika Ravi, a fellow in development economics at Brookings India and fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution in Washington, pinpoints the challenges India faces and outlines why effective healthcare is vital if the country’s middle class is to thrive.
Jigyasa Sharma awarded South Asia Institute Summer Grant
Ms. Sharma will be working on “Evaluation of the Effectiveness of WHO’s Safe Childbirth Checklist in Reducing Prenatal Mortality in Rural Rajasthan”. She is a doctoral candidate in the Global Health and Population Department.
SAI offers a variety of learning opportunities in South Asia for Harvard students through its grants program. Undergraduate and graduate students are invited to apply for research grants to support independent research and thesis field work. SAI has partnered with over 50 organizations in South Asia to offer internships to Harvard students.
Harvard researchers develop cheap and compact medical testing device; device being field tested in India
AUGUST 4, 2014–Research scientists in Professor George Whitesides’ lab work to develop diagnostic tools that are low cost, simple to use, and durable enough to withstand conditions in rural areas and the developing world.
Alex Nemiroski, a postdoctoral fellow in the lab, and colleagues have created an inexpensive detector that can be used by health care workers in the world’s poorest areas to monitor diabetes, detect malaria, discover environmental pollutants, and perform tests that now are done by machines costing tens of thousands of dollars. The device, already in field trials in India, costs about $25 to produce, weighs just two ounces, and is about the size of a pack of cigarettes. It was modeled after the latest generation of inexpensive glucose monitoring devices, which are in widespread use, but whose function is limited to testing blood sugar. In addition to conducting the tests, the new device can send data over the lower-tech cellphones common in the developing world to distant physicians, who can text instructions back to researchers, government officials tracking outbreaks, and others.
Centennial Fellows Start New DrPH Program on July 1, 2014
Nearly three hundred candidates from the United States and around the world applied to the initial class of the DrPH program. This is the largest number of applications to any degree concentration in the School and by far the most applications to a DrPH degree across accredited schools. The inaugural cohort of fifteen students began the program on July 1, 2014. Thanks to a generous gift, we have been able to provide substantial financial support to the incoming class, who will be identified as “Centennial Fellows” at the School. The Centennial Fellows are an extraordinary group of talented and diverse individuals with both domestic and international experience, representing a broad range of different areas of public health.
Our website, http://hsph.me/drph, will be updated this summer with much more information about program design and development in anticipation of the next round of applications.
Should you have any questions, please be in touch with Frances Newton, DrPH program coordinator (email@example.com) who sits in Kresge Room G-29, or with Peter Berman at firstname.lastname@example.org.