Very often, in Nagaland, people with no healthcare benefits consider a visit to the local kobiraj, or indigenous healer, when they detect health discrepancies. And, as in most places in India, when people do visit doctors and are diagnosed with major health conditions, they seek a second opinion.
The GOQii India Fit 2018 report has revealed that 92.3% of citizens do not trust the healthcare system in India which includes doctors, hospitals, pharma, insurance companies and diagnostic labs. Hospitals are the least trusted healthcare institutions with 74% urban Indians not trusting them followed by pharma companies (62.8%), insurance companies (62.8), medical clinics (52.6%), doctors (50.6%) and diagnostic labs (46.1%).
According to the report, that claims to have surveyed 2 lakh people from some of India’s cities, the “key reason for the erosion of trust is largely due to a series of failure in the healthcare system, particularly the negligence by hospitals in the recent past.”
In addition, lack of transparency also came out as the single biggest impediment to the healthcare system in India.
This report gains importance after two junior doctors at the NRS Medical College and Hospital in West Bengal were injured in a mob attack triggered by the death of a patient at the Hospital. Relatives of the deceased alleged that ‘medical negligence’ had led to the death which, in turn, provoked the attacks. After political mishandling of the situation by the Government of West Bengal, doctors of the Indian Medical Association across the country went on strike demanding better security for doctors.
There is no doubt that the life and limb of doctors should be protected. Doctors provide an essential service to citizens; doctors, who are hopefully doing their best, cannot be held solely responsible for the death of patients.
However, with the medical profession becoming increasingly incentivized and profit-oriented, doctors and hospitals have become primary subjects of doubt. Unless a particular doctor or hospital enjoys a reputation, there is little trust in India’s healthcare system, both public and private.
A survey conducted by citizen engagement social networking platform LocalCircles showed many citizens reporting that doctors are given financial targets by hospitals and incentivized every month for achieving them. “This leads to doctors unnecessarily prescribing tests and medicines to the patients, thereby increasing their bills by many folds,” the survey noted.
It revealed that a majority of citizens want the government to implement regulatory changes that are oriented towards citizens and enforce the laws tightly.
On the other hand, even as Ayurvedic treatment is getting the required attention, indigenous healers should be given space to grow appropriately, becoming institutionalized and accountable. In the United States of America, many First Nations have set up hospitals for indigenous medicine on their reservations—this opens the door to many without means to basic healthcare. As allopathic treatment hospitals become more profit-oriented and the ones run by the government increasingly negligent, this is an opportunity for indigenous medicine in Nagaland to see the light of day.
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