ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Medical Industry: Illusion of Quality at What Cost?

Much of the debate on privatisation of health care has been based on the assumption that the private sector provides a better quality of services than the public sector. Efforts are on to restructure public institutions on market principles to promote efficiency. However, a recent report on Delhi's private hospitals is a shocking reveletion of their questionable management practices with regard to workers as well as patient care.

During the mid-1980s the government formally recognised private health care as an industry, helping corporate hospitals to then mobilise loans from public financial institutions. During the same period import duties on medical equipment were slashed and land was leased at extremely low rates to many of these large private hospitals. These concessions and subsidies largely benefited the tertiary, multi-specialist hospitals in the private sector.

In the run-up to the presentation of the union budget 2000-01, private hospitals made several demands for government subsidies in the wake of many of them facing severe financial difficulties. In the face of increased competition they claimed they had been unable to make profits. In this situation, many of these enterprises sought government subsidies as one way of increasing their financial viability. Corporate hospitals have also sought to cut labour costs which account for substantial total cost of operation given the essentially labour-intensive nature of these enterprises.

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