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Times of India
08 Aug 2012

India has, in effect, one of the most privatized healthcare systems in the world. World Bank data for 2010, the latest available, shows that public expenditure on health in India was just 29.2% of total health spending against the global average of 62.8%.

The only countries for which data was available with a lower proportion of public spending to total spending on health were Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Azerbaijan, Haiti, Ivory Coast, Uganda, Georgia, Yemen, Chad and Tajikstan.

Not only was India’s proportion of public expenditure to total spending on health considerably lower than the global average, it did not even come close to matching the average for “low income” countries, which was 38.8%. Even sub-Saharan Africa, with 45.3%, was doing significantly better.

Taken along with the data on how much of the GDP total health expenditure accounts for, India’s figures are even more dismal. The global average, the data shows, was 10.4% of GDP. The figure for OECD – a club of the world’s most economically developed countries was 12.9%. Middle-income countries, a group that includes India, averaged 5.7% and even low-income ones registered 5.3%. Against this, India spent 4.1% from all sources of health.

Put the two sets of numbers together and what it tells us is that India’s public expenditure on health was equivalent to a mere 1.2%. That’s against a global average of 6.5%, an OECD average of 8.4%, a middle-income countries level of 3.0% and 2.1% for low-income countries as a whole.

In short, not only does India spend less on healthcare than most of the world, including countries which are significantly worse off economically, even what little is spent comes largely from private sources.


World Bank data for 2010 shows that India’s public spend on health was just 29.2% of total health expenditure against the global average of 62.8%. Even ‘lowincome’ countries averaged 38.8% and sub-Saharan Africa’s figures stood at 45.3%. In terms of the percentage of GDP spent on health, India’s 4.1% is lower than middle-income nations’ 5.7% and low-income countries’ 5.3%

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