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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 34  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 29-35

Health systems challenges and opportunities in tackling non-communicable diseases in rural areas of India


National Centre for Disease Informatics and Research (Indian Council of Medical Research), Nirmal Bhawan, ICMR Complex, Poojanhalli Road, off NH-7, adjacent to Trumpet Flyover of BIAL, Kannamangala Post, Bengaluru 562110, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
Anita Nath
National Centre for Disease Informatics and Research (Indian Council of Medical Research), Nirmal Bhawan, ICMR Complex, Poojanhalli Road, off NH-7, adjacent to Trumpet Flyover of BIAL, Kannamangala Post, Bengaluru 562110, Karnataka
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0970-258X.323661

The increasing burden of non-communicable diseases in rural areas poses new challenges to an already overburdened health systems. We detail these challenges and identify opportunities to address them. The major challenges in service delivery in rural areas include poor accessibility, shortage of adequate manpower especially specialists in rural areas, irregular supply of medicines and lack of adequate diagnostic facilities. This has led to an increased dependency on the private sector resulting in high out-of-pocket and catastrophic health expenditure. The challenges are amplified by lower health literacy, large pool of informal or untrained healthcare practitioners, and lack of proper referral and follow up. The health system opportunities identified include task-shifting by training of mid-level healthcare providers and practitioners from Indian systems of medicine, widening use of e-health and m-health, community engagement and public–private partnerships. Participatory health governance through community engagement has been shown to improve accountability and quality in health systems. Civil society organizations (CSO) can also improve awareness and health-seeking behaviour. New and evidence-based strategies need to be implemented to address health system challenges for tackling non-communicable diseases in rural areas.


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