NITIN NAYYAR ( Coordinator – Marketing &Scientific Communications HORIBA Medical, New Delhi )
CSR is about society and its well-being and healthcare is also about health & well-being of the society. Thus, the most obvious relation of business with the society can be well understood considering the most intimately connected and socially involved industry in businesses i.e. healthcare. The actual role of healthcare companies is more of making society healthy and productive rather than making profit by selling the treatments and medicines. This becomes not-so-easy considering complex administrative procedures, financial implications, expensive technology and highly-qualified and technical human capital with specialized knowledge, which are to be moved together in a synchronized manner and facilitated concomitantly to bring about the desired results of high-quality care and treatment, keeping the cost of treatment low.
Currently, if we compare the health indicators of India with those of the other countries worldwide, the picture that will emerge is going to be pretty dismal. Statistically although India has progressed well on some basic health indicators during the last 60 years since independence, it lags very much behind other developed and emerging economies like the BRICS countries. In World Health Organisation’s(WHO, 2013), ranking of National Healthcare Delivery Systems, India finds itself a very low rank of 112 along with sub-Saharan countries and even behind Bangladesh that is at position 88. Also, reported is the fact that 35% of the population has no access to essential drugs while 45% of the children below five years of age are malnourished. A very interesting finding was that, 3% of the Indian population slides below the poverty line every year due to the crushing burden of healthcare costs. Many other interesting but disappointing indicators in the report paints grim picture of the healthcare in India or more specifically health of Indians.
In South-East Asia, India ranks 3rd in Out-of-Pocket (OOP) expenditure on Health, behind Vietnam and Bangladesh. Around 68% OOP payments are made in getting Healthcare services. It has affected the poverty and hunger in the Indian population especially for the BPL population. As per the reports around 39 million Indians are pushed to poverty because of ill health every year. Financial burden of health is a prominent cause of indebtedness in rural India and as reported around 30% people of rural India avoided medical treatments due to financial constraints in 2004 alone. Thus, overall healthcare is the biggest adversity that India is facing today.
Fortunately, at the same time, India became the first country in the world to introduce Section 135 of the Companies Act 2013, i.e. Corporate Social Responsibility which could be the desired answer or solution to the funding crunch in the public health expenditure and funding in India. As per the Section 135 of the Companies Act 2013 companies falling under the given criteria of turnover, net-worth or average net profit will have to mandatorily spend around 2% of the average net profit for social activities prescribed in the Schedule VII of the act. Many of these activities are related to healthcare or public health, which means healthcare financing, could become easier to implement these public health programs with better efficiency and effectiveness. But how far are these funds really going to help the Indian Public health system, will be seen in the coming years, once these funds are actually pumped into the system. However, it is a good ray of hope that Section 135 of the Companies Act 2013, could be the desired treatment for the infected, ill and disabled health system of India considering current needs of the country.