India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, and it has taken significant strides in improving the health of its citizens over the past few decades. For instance, average life expectancy has risen from 62 years in 2000 to 68.5 years in 2016. The number of under-5 deaths is coming down steadily — from 91 per thousand in 2000 to 39 in 2017.
Despite this significant improvement in life expectancy and child mortality rates, vast swathes of the country’s population are still vulnerable and deprived of access to good healthcare. Socioeconomic status, geography and gender are contributory factors to this bleak scenario.
The Tata Trusts have been engaged for decades in the field of public health. They develop and support multi-pronged initiatives to address issues that cover both communicable and non-communicable diseases and range widely from malaria and tuberculosis to cancer, maternal and child health and mental health. The goal is to strengthen healthcare delivery capability through a multipronged approach that includes direct implementation, institution building, partnerships, and adoption of technology and innovation.
One of the biggest challenges to improving health is access to primary health care. In 2011, the World Bank reported an availability of 0.7 beds per 1,000 people for India. Further, according to the Indian Government’s health and family welfare statistics, a major part of available healthcare is concentrated in urban areas, leaving the rural population underserved. Exacerbating the situation is the significant gap in availability, distribution and capacities of healthcare professionals. According to World Bank data, India has a ratio of 0.7 doctors and 1.5 nurses per 1,000 people.
The difficulty in accessing good healthcare spurs a higher incidence of diseases. This means that the rural poor tend to get sicker more often and more seriously than their urban counterparts – diseases that could have been caught at the primary stage are often in their secondary or tertiary stages before the patient even begins treatment. The cost of this secondary or tertiary treatment is often out of their means, leading to the patient and the family becoming even poorer.
The Trusts’ Health Portfolio focuses on improving access to, and the quality of, healthcare by addressing the lacunae in human resources and infrastructure across the continuum of patients’ health and well-being, and by adopting technology to help reach scale and long-term impact.
Access to primary healthcare is key to improving India’s health parameters. As much as 80% of healthcare conditions can be addressed at the primary stage by a physician and/or community healthcare worker. By entering into the primary care stage of healthcare, where early detection can help with preventive or curative treatment and management of the disease, the Trusts hope to substantially decrease the load on secondary and tertiary care facilities.
Cohesive strategies play an important role in bringing about change in the system or among the community. The Trusts work with governments, government agencies and implementation partners to provide multi-layered, integrated interventions such as maternal care, nutrition, water and sanitation, behavioural change communication, poverty alleviation and infrastructure support, to work towards achieving large-scale sustainable impact in the field of public health.
The Tata Trusts offer primary care services for preventive, curative and in some cases, rehabilitative treatment of non-communicable diseases
Dr Sanjiv Chopra
The Tata Trusts Cancer Care team is focusing on providing accessible, affordable and quality treatment and down staging of cancer through prevention and early detection with it's unique distributed care model
Regions Covered in Healthcare
Key highlights — Healthcare