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India’s healthcare sector is not equipped for the unprecedented rise in coronavirus cases which could turn worse, highlighting the continued lack of medical funding to build healthcare infrastructure, Fitch Solutions said on Friday.

India recorded the fastest 1 million covid-19 cases in a matter of merely 6 days moving from 13 million to 14 million with daily caseload rising by over 2 lakh each for the second consecutive day on Thursday.

Fitch said despite several healthcare reforms, India remains badly placed to tackle the rapid spread of the coronavirus. “The continued lack of medical funding and healthcare infrastructure inform our view for the potential epidemic to be worse in India if it is not adequately contained. With 8.5 hospital beds per 10,000 population and 8 physicians per 10,000, the country’s healthcare sector is not equipped for such a crisis. Moreover, the significant inefficiency, dysfunctioning and acute shortage of the healthcare delivery systems in the public sector do not match up with the growing needs of the population," it added.

In addition, more than 80% of the population still does not have any significant health insurance coverage and approximately 68% of the Indian population has limited or no access to essential medicines, Fitch said. “The low level of public spending on health is both a cause and an exacerbating factor accounting for the poor quality, limited reach and insufficient public provisioning of healthcare. Dealing with the covid-19 pandemic has brought out the critical importance of the public sector in health provisioning," it added.

India has administered 117 million vaccine doses until 15 April, the most after the US and China, but it lags far behind in immunisations per capita. “India, the world's biggest vaccine maker, expanded its inoculation programme to include everyone above the age of 45. But so far it has vaccinated only about one in 25 people, compared with nearly one in two in Britain and one in three in the United States. India’s soaring virus cases puts its position as a global supplier at risk – the country has had to hold back vaccine exports in order to maintain domestic supply. India’s supply issues will significantly affect emerging Asian countries like Sri Lanka and Bangladesh that fall within the COVAX plan," it said.

States such as Maharashtra, Delhi, Chennai along with Punjab and Karnataka bearing the maximum load of the pandemic are already falling short of health infrastructure and equipment ranging from oxygen to ventilators, Fitch said.

With many states facing shortage of vaccines, government has cleared import of Sputnik V vaccine from Russia and has agreed to fast-track vaccine approvals to speed up inoculations in the country.

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