Indian Govt spends only 0.9% of GDP on health, ranks 171 in public health spending


Regular Member
Jul 27, 2009
Country flag
India ranks 171 out of 175 in public health spending, says WHO study - India - NEWS - The Times of India

BANGALORE: While the public health Bill amendment is still pending with the cabinet and there is panic among the public on H1N1 flu — sample
this: India ranks 171 out of the 175 countries in the world in public health spending.

This is less than some of the sub-Saharan African countries, a World Health Organization (WHO) study of 2007-08 has revealed. This being the status, can we tackle the existing epidemics and new entries like H1N1 flu?

For a country of one billion, India spends 5.2% of the GDP on healthcare. While 4.3% is spent by the private sector, the government continues to spend only 0.9% on public health. When the economic growth index is moving forward, the wellness index is dipping.

‘‘Public health spending as a percentage of GDP is minuscule. Due to this India is being overly dependent on private sector. With lowest insurance penetration people are forced to spend out of their resources. In fact, neighbouring China ranks among the leading developing countries in public health spending, almost 6% of the GDP,’’ said Vishal Bali, CEO, Wockhardt hospitals.

While India ranks among the top 10 countries for communicable disease, it is today, world leader of chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension and coronary artery disease.

Said Dr H Sudarshan who was part of WHO Commission on Macro Economics and Health: ‘‘There has been marginal increase in public health spending with National Rural Health Mission, but there is need for increasing health budget and also simultaneously build the capacity of the state to use the allocated budget efficiently in public health.’’

India’s National Rural Health Mission is undeniably a brand that has put public heathcare upfront. But where does it stand in the face of poor national health indicators?

One of the key findings of the commission was that by improving the health condition, the economy of the country will improve. But it has been reverse in India, he said.

Dr N Devadasan, Director of Institute of Public Health, Bangalore, said: ‘‘There is growth in GDP
but there has been no increase in healthcare spending. This inadequate public health spending has forced the public to depend on private sector.’’

India’s health scenario currently presents a contrasting picture. While health tourism and private healthcare are being promoted, a large section of Indian population still reels under the risk of curable diseases that do not receive ample attention of policymakers.
can't believe these figures are true. can anyone confirm. i always thought we spend more on education and health than defence.


Regular Member
Mar 30, 2009
Here is a question for the members of the forum

Is India's health intertests best served by pursuing health insurance and private industry heathcare (the US model) or is it better served by a government provided Healthcare system (like the NHS in the UK)?

Or is a mixed model like the French system (basic government insured healthcare, supplemental care through the private system) the answer

This is debate going on the worl over and is currently raising storms in the US, and it should come under wider discussion in India.

As far as I can see, government hospitals, in spite of boasting a very good crop of doctors are not the best managed places, especially if you leave the urban centers. On the other hand private hospitals become very expensive if you do not have proper insurance.

My personal view

  1. Very basic services like vaccinations provided by the government. Government can also run some hospitals, especially like the ones attached to medical colleges.
  2. Basic health insurance (as opposed to health service) provided by government. This may be availaed either through government run hospitals or through private hospitals
  3. Supplemental/ addtional insurance through private parties

Latest Replies

Global Defence

New threads