Gist of EPW May Week 1, 2021

The Economic and Political Weekly (EPW) is an important source of study material for IAS, especially for the current affairs segment. In this section, we give you the gist of the EPW magazine every week. The important topics covered in the weekly are analysed and explained in a simple language, all from a UPSC perspective.

Accumulation of Poor Health Infrastructure


The article analyses the effects and causes of the second wave of the pandemic in India.


  • According to WTO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Covid-19 situation in India is a reminder of the destructive capabilities of the coronavirus.
  • Most countries of the world faced medical services disruption, as per a WHO survey.
  • The national capital Delhi has again witnessed a deadly situation as the second wave of the pandemic rages on.

The Second Wave of Covid-19;

  • The disaster in the second phase is caused by a collective failure in preparedness.
  • There have been inadequate efforts in ensuring adequate raw materials for vaccines, containers for transporting oxygen, virus testing, medicines, beds, and other facilities.
  • The governments seem to fail and seem to have wasted the one year which it had for making adequate preparations.

Health Infrastructure in India:

  • India spends 1% of the GDP on healthcare whereas countries like the United States have much higher spending on healthcare (8% of the GDP). 
  • 70% of health spending in India is from the pockets of the public. 
  • The early health programs in India were disease-oriented.
  • In the due course, the development of the General Healthcare Infrastructure got neglected.
  • India has only one doctor for 1,511 people and one nurse for 670 failing the WHO recommendation (one doctor per 1,000 population and one nurse per 300 population).
  • India’s effective coverage of universal health services was only 47 for 1990–2019, which is half that of major rich economies, and also lower than countries with lower development than India.
    • The effective coverage of universal health services for 1990-2019 was 51 in Bhutan, 54 in Bangladesh, 70 in China and Iran, 82 in the US.
  • The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has estimated the total funds needed for healthcare to be Rs 5.74 lakh crore, in a memorandum submitted to the Fifteenth Finance Commission.
    • Of the above, Rs 5.13 lakh crore was needed for primary healthcare.
    • The FC had agreed to only Rs 1.06 lakh crore for a five-year period.

Conundrum amongst the States:

  • State government spendings show mega-scale disparities which make the situation worse.
    • The per capita health expenditure in Bihar was Rs 617 in 2018–19, it was Rs 2,048 in Kerala and Rs 6,207 in Goa. 
    • Kerala has one of the best healthcare scenarios with more than five doctors, nurses, per 1,000 people.


  • With the continuous failures of the government of India in the healthcare sector, the private sector has been given a prime role.
  • But, the social and economic disparities in India need a government-provided Healthcare System.
  • The huge population of our country needs a healthcare system that can ramp up the network when needed.
  • The pandemic waves have shown us that there is no substitute for Government-Provided Healthcare Infrastructure and Facilities for a country like ours.

Gist of EPW May Week 1, 2021:- Download PDF Here




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