Health service system in transition: An assessment of the influence of the British and US healthcare systems on the evolution of health services in India

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Chhavi Sodhi & Pushpendra Singh
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Purpose The purpose of this paper is to present a historical overview of the health service sector in India. The development in the healthcare sector from the late eighteenth century into current times is examined from the prism of the role played by British and US healthcare systems in influencing change in the Indian setup. Design/methodology/approach Online databases searched were PubMed and JSTOR, using the search terms, “Indian health service system in transition”, “British influence on the Indian healthcare setup” and “American neo-liberal influence on Indian healthcare sector”. The authors then examined titles and abstracts of selected articles for short-listing relevant articles. Reference lists of selected articles were examined for further locating related studies. While this constituted the secondary literature for the current paper, reports by governmental and non-governmental organisation reports on the Indian health service system too were utilised as primary data sources. Findings Influenced by the British and later by the American healthcare system, the Indian healthcare network has undergone numerous changes. In the present era, the Indian healthcare system is increasingly veering towards the American model of healthcare delivery. Health is increasingly being conceived of as a commodity to be traded in the market, with the state’s role curtailed towards provisioning for and facilitating access of the weakest sections of the society through a means-tested insurance system. This has happened without adequate checks and balances on the private sector to ensure that the needs of the people accessing the system are adequately met. Social implications By tracing the development of the health service sector in India and the motives that guide such change, the paper depicts how the thrust of the system has altered from one providing universal healthcare services to the people, irrespective of their ability to pay, at the time of independence to commercialis

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