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Lacking Healthcare In Northeast Compels 73% From The Region To Seek Treatment In Other States

Srishti B Dutta
Srishti B Dutta
Updated on Aug 03, 2023, 18:07 IST- 3 min read

73% of Indians suffering from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the Northeastern states of India migrate to other states for treatments, as per 'State of Healthcare in Rural India – 2023', a pan-India report which has been conducted by the Development Intelligence Unit (DIU). 

Observer Research Foundation Observer Research Foundation

The report points to 'Domestic Medical Tourism', as 63% of Indians with family members suffering from NCDs choose to migrate to states outside of theirs to access better healthcare services. 

However, the burden seems to be greatest in North East India, with the statistic showing 73% migrating out, while for other regions such as the West, South and East, the same statistic stands at 29%, 28% and 27%, respectively. 

Health sector in Northeast found to be lacking 

Over the years, NCDs have been noticed to be gradually increasing in the region. The report' Disease Burden and Healthcare Utilization in the North Eastern Region of India' states that in the NE region, Sikkim and Mizoram have a substantial population suffering from NCDs, followed by Tripura and Assam. 

A health camp in rural Assam/ Northeast Now A health camp in rural Assam/ Northeast Now

The Rural Health Statistics Report (2018-19) stated that the primary (PHC) and community health centres (CHCs) lag behind in health facilities and human resources in the tribal areas. As the 8 states of Northeast India are populated mainly by tribes, the shortfall of human resource is more prominent. 

The North Eastern Council (NEC) points to how the health sector of the NE region lacks in many areas due to: 

  1. Inadequate communication facilities 
  2. Shortage of trained human resources 
  3. Lack of infrastructure 

Inequitable pattern of regional development 

Even within Northeast region, the rural areas lag behind the most. 

The report points out that most public, trust-run, and private hospitals are in urban areas. Hence, people in the rural sector tend to utilise primary healthcare facilities with limited, undertrained, and underequipped facilities. 

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The inequitable pattern of regional development indicates that urban areas have better amenities and resources, and most people prefer private healthcare over public facilities. 

Need to create conducive environment for patients 

The DIU Report focuses on how careful attention is required on trust-building efforts within local healthcare ecosystems (bringing innovations, start-ups, public, private, etc.) and communities to create a conducive environment for patients to access comprehensive care services within the locality itself. 

Further, it focuses on adopting a 'whole of system, whole of society' approach to offer 'state of the art' infrastructure and quality services locally so that it can alleviate the burden on patients and make healthcare more inclusive and equitable across the country.

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