Indian citizens are set to receive free access to healthcare
The Indian Government has announced that it is set to transform the Indian healthcare sector, giving poorer citizens access to vital services.
The new National Health Protection Scheme, revealed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, will grant poorer income families greater access to health insurance. Amongst a growing economy and increasing populations, the government is looking at new ways in which to better serve local communities prior to national elections, which are set to be underway in 2019.
Although similar schemes have not been successful, the government is certain that this will prove successful, where poorer citizens have limited access to health insurance. The government has stated that it has put aside $314 million for the programme, but with over a billion citizens, the budget will need to be ramped up significantly.
The scheme will open the doors to low-income families and provide up to 500,000 rupees (up to US$8,000) per annum, where citizens will gain access to essential hospital cover.
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At present, India is amongst the countries which spend the lowest financially within its public healthcare services, where treatment remains out of reach for over 30% of the local population. The average life expectancy in India is also under 70, which is lower than other developing countries.
A shortage of doctors and limited spend in public hospitals has further exacerbated the barriers the country faces in its goal to provide Universal Healthcare Coverage (UHC) in the future, where may public hospitals are in need of Improvement.
Jaitley has described the scheme to be the “world’s largest healthcare programme” which would create hundreds of new healthcare-based roles. It would provide further support, reduce the financial burden and increased risks families currently undertake to gain essential services.
Nonetheless, it has been stated that many healthcare ailments are the result of ongoing issues relating to hygiene and environmental standards in the country. With rising pollution, poor sanitation and poor infrastructure, the country has a way to go until its healthcare becomes world-class.
A new app is providing vital palliative care in Ethiopia
A new mobile phone app has been developed to support patients needing end of life care in Ethiopia.
The Ayzot app has been created in collaboration between the UK's University Surrey, the University of Strathclyde, Hospice Ethiopia, the Federal Ministry of Health and Hello Doctor Ethiopia, an Ethiopian-based software company.
The app is named after a common Ethiopian expression roughly translated to mean "to soothe a sick person". The app is aimed at supporting patients with life-limiting illnesses such as cancer and HIV/AIDS, by helping them manage pain along with other symptoms.
A self-assessment management system leads the patient or carer through a common set of symptoms such as pain, nausea, drowsiness, breathlessness, tiredness, and loss of appetite.
Successful symptom management
Both patients and carers are encouraged to use the Ayzot app to assess the severity of each symptom using a combination of measures, including a pain assessment scale. The app contains both pharmacological and non-pharmacological medication information, and where appropriate it directs the user to get help and further information on things like wound care, spiritual care and diet.
During beta user-testing, carers reported positive changes in how they treated their loved one’s wounds because of the advice found on the app. Healthcare professionals commented on the app's potential to support them in delivering targeted care with limited resources. The patients testing the app reported that it helped them feel more reassured and supported with their pain management and symptom control.
Accessing palliative care
The majority of Ethiopia's 114 million people live in rural locations where access to palliative care is difficult, and there is only one hospice in the entire country. The pandemic has made accessing care even more difficult. "During the COVID-19 pandemic, access to essential palliative care in Ethiopia has been reduced" Dr Nicola Carey, from the School of Health Sciences at the University of Surrey said.
"I believe the app will help prevent disease and treat patients. We hope that Ayzot will be embedded into the national palliative care clinical provision to support healthcare professionals and provide enhanced palliative coverage in Ethiopia.”
The team behind Ayzot are now planning to test the app in other African countries.