Current health scenario in rural India

Aust J Rural Health. 2002 Apr;10(2):129-35. doi: 10.1046/j.1440-1584.2002.00458.x.


India is the second most populous country of the world and has changing socio-political-demographic and morbidity patterns that have been drawing global attention in recent years. Despite several growth-orientated policies adopted by the government, the widening economic, regional and gender disparities are posing challenges for the health sector. About 75% of health infrastructure, medical man power and other health resources are concentrated in urban areas where 27% of the population live. Contagious, infectious and waterborne diseases such as diarrhoea, amoebiasis, typhoid, infectious hepatitis, worm infestations, measles, malaria, tuberculosis, whooping cough, respiratory infections, pneumonia and reproductive tract infections dominate the morbidity pattern, especially in rural areas. However, non-communicable diseases such as cancer, blindness, mental illness, hypertension, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, accidents and injuries are also on the rise. The health status of Indians, is still a cause for grave concern, especially that of the rural population. This is reflected in the life expectancy (63 years), infant mortality rate (80/1000 live births), maternal mortality rate (438/100 000 live births); however, over a period of time some progress has been made. To improve the prevailing situation, the problem of rural health is to be addressed both at macro (national and state) and micro (district and regional) levels. This is to be done in an holistic way, with a genuine effort to bring the poorest of the population to the centre of the fiscal policies. A paradigm shift from the current 'biomedical model' to a 'sociocultural model', which should bridge the gaps and improve quality of rural life, is the current need. A revised National Health Policy addressing the prevailing inequalities, and working towards promoting a long-term perspective plan, mainly for rural health, is imperative.

MeSH terms

  • Health Policy / trends*
  • Humans
  • India
  • Public Health Practice
  • Rural Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Rural Population