NEW DELHI: Oxfam, in its latest study, found out that India has the fourth lowest health budget in the world. Shockingly, Afghanistan and India have almost the same share of the gross domestic product, at four per cent, allotted to public health.
The report has found that just 26 countries of the total 158 countries are spending the recommended 15 per cent of their budget on health. The Oxfam statement said that the bottom three countries in the study, Nigeria, Bahrain and India, are also the worst performers in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic. The data shows that India has just 4 per cent of the budget allocated to the health sector and ranked 155th on Health Spending Index.
World Bank ranked India 13th lowest in the list of government expenditure (3.4 per cent) on health sector in 2017. Second poorest country of the world, Burundi, spent 8.5 per cent on health in that year. Average health expenditure of high-income countries was 18.6 per cent and for middle-income countries, it was 5.1 per cent.
This trend is consistent in the South Asian region. Oxfam said that it is disturbing that data shows just half of the Indian population has access to essential health services. Almost 70 per cent of the health spending is met by household expenditures, which is one of the highest in the world. This gap in the health budget of the country has made the fight against COVID-19 pandemic more difficult, the report said.