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Apr 9, 2018

Is ineffective healthcare system affecting lives?

Naureen Khan & Health Campaign Team, Oxfam India

When Shahnaz Bano’s husband was diagnosed with paralysis, money was hard to come. With a family of six children, the eldest son shouldered the responsibility to earn a living and migrated to Gujrat for work. Most of her son’s income was spent on her husband’s treatment. 

While Shahnaz was already struggling to meet ends, she started to experience excruciating stomach aches. She soon visited a Primary Health Centre (PHC) in Phulwari Sharif, Bihar where she was advised medicines and diagnostic tests outside of PHC due to its unavailability at the centre. “I had hoped to get free medicine instead i was asked to visit a private diagnosis centre. How will I afford such medical expense?” says Shahnaz. The medicines had no effect on the pain and after another visit to the PHC, Shahnaz was referred to the Medical College Hospital in Patna.

The patient's queue at the medical college was very long. Unable to bear the pain, she was taken to the private hospital where the treatment cost her Rs 10,000. Although, Shahnaz has now recovered but her struggle to repay the loan for the medical expense continues. Her story reflects the ground reality of government health care institutions where access to essential medicines and diagnostics are limited and inequitable. 

Shahnaz is now an active member of women’s group constituted by Oxfam India and it's partner organization to help in improvement of the health and nutrition status of communities especially for women and children. Shahnaz like many other women in her district is now aware of her rights, entitlements and various health and nutrition government schemes. These women are contributing to empowering other men & women so they can collectively demand for effective implementation of schemes and quality health care for everyone.

As per the Economic Survey 2017-18, Bihar spends the lowest among all the states at Rs.348 per individual on health. It has the highest dependence on private health-care services among Indian states and an estimated 22 lakh households face "catastrophic" health expenditure and are pushed towards impoverishment. Only 6% of Bihar's population is covered by public health insurance. 

When generous people like you donate to Oxfam India, we are able to spread awareness among people- especially the marginalized communities about their rights and empower them to raise their voice for their basic necessities. People like you help us enable our work on the ground and together we can spread awareness and urge the government on effective implementation of government health schemes, availability of services in PHCs and allocation of higher public health expenditure.

In case you wish to make a monthly contribution to help people like Shahnaz be aware of their rights and raise voice to receive affordable public healthcare, please click here,

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