84% people from northeast relocate for better medical facilities: Report

Most migrate due to a lack of availability of human resources and essential requirements such as hospital beds, physical infrastructure, drugs, and diagnostics

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Raghav Aggarwal New Delhi

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Highlighting the state of medical facilities in the region, a report released on Tuesday said that 84 per cent of people living in northeastern states of India choose to relocate to get better treatment for serious ailments and surgeries.

The findings were part of the State of Healthcare in Rural India report released by the Development Intelligence Unit (DIU), a collaboration between Transform Rural India (TRI) and Sambodhi Research and Communications Private Limited. It was based on a study of telephonic interviews with 6,478 respondents across 21 states.

The report said that the northeast is closely followed by eastern states (66 per cent) and central states (61 per cent).

The report highlighted that in the primary and secondary health centres, the availability of human resources and essential requirements such as hospital beds, physical infrastructure, drugs, and diagnostics, sometimes do not match the local demand or disease burden.

"These circumstances compel patients to relocate to tertiary healthcare centres within or outside the state in order to seek improved medical care," it said.

The inclination to travel for better medicine was lower in the north and west regions of India but it was still above 50 per cent in both cases.

In south India, however, only nearly two-thirds felt that there was no need to migrate for better medical treatment.

Moreover, 72.5 per cent of respondents from northeastern states said they want to migrate outside their state for treatment. It was followed by 59.6 per cent in north India and 44.3 per cent in central India.

On the expenditure front, 51.6 per cent of all respondents said they spent less than Rs 25,000 on migration. Another 25 per cent said they spent between Rs 25,000 and Rs 50,000 on migration.  

The largest proportion of the population that spent less than Rs 25,000 came from the east region (60.8 per cent). It was followed by the south region (57.4 per cent) and the west region (52.1 per cent).

On the other hand, the proportion of those spending between Rs 25,000 and Rs 50,000 was the highest in the north region (57.7 per cent). It was followed by the central region (27.6 per cent) and the northeast region (26 per cent).

At 20.7 per cent, people from the southern region were also the highest in the category of spending Rs 50,000 and Rs 100,000 on migration.

It was followed by 13.6 per cent in the northeast region and 12.8 per cent in the west region.

All lagging behind in treating mental health

The findings of the report highlighted that almost all regions in India lag behind when it comes to treating mental health. It also showed that most people are unaware of the counselling services at the local public health centres (PHCs) and health and wellness centres (HWCs).

The data in the report showed that only 4.8 per cent of local PHCs and HWCs offer counselling services for mental health in the northern part of the country. It is followed by 15.2 per cent in the northeast and 25.1 per cent in the central region.

On a pan-India level, 60 per cent of respondents said that their nearest PHCs/HWCs do not have mental health counselling.

Moreover, 58.8 per cent of respondents, who have completed higher secondary education, said they do not know where to go to seek counselling if it is unavailable at their nearest PHC or HWC.  

This was higher in people with less education. For those who are illiterate or have an education below the Primary level, 72.3 per cent were unaware of where to seek therapy.

Of those who have completed education between primary and secondary level, 60.6 per cent said they do not know where to go for counselling.

In the category of education between secondary and higher-secondary, 61.5 per cent do not know where to seek the therapy, if not at the PHC or HWC.

The report said that universal health coverage cannot be achieved by not working on mental health.

"It should be considered a public good and need more to be invested in a timely manner. This momentum and the unprecedented juncture where India finds itself on the issue of mental health should be utilised to take concrete actions on mental health and disability and to advance Universal Health Coverage in India," it said. 

First Published: Aug 01 2023 | 1:52 PM IST

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