India lags behind Lanka, Bangladesh in healthcare: study

Despite some improvement, India continues to be one of the poor performers in healthcare, ranking at 154 – far behind China, and lower than Sri Lanka or even Bangladesh - in terms of quality and accessibility of healthcare, according to the latest Global Burden of Disease study.

The study, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and published in the prestigious medical journal Lancet, says that despite socio-economic development and some giant leaps in medicine, India has failed to achieve its healthcare goals and the gap between the actual score and predicted score has widened in the last 25 years.

Though India's score in the healthcare index increased by 14.1 points, from 30.7 in 1990 to 44.8 in 2015, it performed worse than expected in tuberculosis, diabetes, rheumatic heart diseases and chronic kidney disease.

The study assesses 195 countries in healthcare performance from 1990-2015, based on death rates from 32 diseases year-on-year that could be avoided by effective medical care.

India scored an index of 14 in case of neonatal disorders, 26 for tuberculosis, 25 for rheumatic heart diseases and 33 for hypertensive heart diseases.

For diabetes, chronic kidney diseases and congenital heart diseases it scored 38, 20 and 45 respectively.

Highlighting growing inequalities between countries, researchers pointed out that even among countries with similar development levels, there is wide variation in healthcare access and quality. For instance, China is far ahead of India, ranking at 82 with a score of 74 on the index. Sri Lanka has scored 73 on the index, whereas Brazil and Bangladesh have score 65 and 52 respectively. However, India ranks above Pakistan, which has scored 43.

According to the study, South Korea, Turkey, Peru, China and the Maldives have seen some of the greatest improvements in healthcare access and quality since the 1990s, but India has failed to achieve most of the healthcare goals.

"By measuring healthcare quality and access, we hope to provide countries across the development spectrum with valuable data on where improvements are most needed to have the biggest impact on the health of their nation," said senior author Professor Christopher Murray, Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, USA.

Globally, the index increased from 40.7 in 1990 to 53.7 in 2015.