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Swarthmore College

Publication Date

Spring 2012

Program Name

India: Health and Human Rights


Health inequities based on geographic differences and between rural and urban populations in modern India demonstrate the stark differences in health access and community development throughout the country. More than 70% of the Indian population lives in rural areas, and yet a greater proportion of health care spending is devoted to urban populations. In 2004-5, 29.2% of both central and state public expenditures were allocated to urban allopathic services while 11.8% went to rural allopathic services (Balarajan, Selvaraj, and Subramanian 2011, 508). There are more than twice as many government beds in urban than in rural areas and geographic distribution of health care services have been unplanned and unequal within India, to the detriment of the rural poor (CBHI 2008). The Indian government has not been able to provide the timely and quality emergency medical services to the masses, particularly in rural areas. According to a report from the National Commission on Macroeconomics and Health, The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW), and the Government of India, the average villager has to travel 2.2 km to receive a paracetamol tablet, over 6km for a blood test, and 20km for hospital care (Garg et al. 2012). Studies have found that there are often problems in rural areas where the most basic emergency obstetric care has been found to be lacking (Subhan and Jain 2010). 39 million Indians per year fall into poverty from out –of-pocket expenditures for health care, and out of this 30.6 million are from rural areas (Balarajan, Selvaraj, and Subramanian 2011, 510).


Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Family, Life Course, and Society | Inequality and Stratification | Medicine and Health | Public Health | Rural Sociology