English Vocab

Universal Health Coverage is The Best Prescription
Three recent incidents involving the health-care sector in Delhi have sparked widespread outrage over the alleged mercenary (primarily concerned with making money at the expense of ethics.) motives and callous (showing or having an insensitive and cruel disregard for others.) conduct of high-profile corporate hospitals. Two cases involved children with dengue who died soon after leaving these hospitals in a serious condition after their families were presented huge hospitalisation and treatment bills. The third case involved a live premature baby being “declared dead” and handed over to the parents wrapped in plastic.

Distrust and despair
Questions have been raised, and rightly so, about the lack of professional standards in terms of competence and compassion (solicitude). The medical bills, running into huge figures, also stoked (encourage or incite (a strong emotion or tendency).) anger at perceived corporate addiction to profit maximisation. The government, the hospital managements and the Indian Medical Association have begun inquiries. Even as these go on, there is deep public distrust and despair over health care in private and public sector hospitals.
Three major issues are involved when we assess health care: access, quality and cost. Each of these needs to be addressed with clarity, and not in isolation. Solutions have to be those that fit into a common system architecture, or a system best designed and delivered as Universal Health Coverage (UHC), now enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goals.
Access to readily reachable, trustworthy (copper-bottomed) and affordable health care is a major challenge before poorly served rural areas and overcrowded urban areas. Also, the inadequacy of organised primary health services here is compounded by a weakness at the intermediate level of care in many district hospitals and nursing homes. While corporate hospitals boast of high quality advanced care and compete with each other for a significant share of medical tourism, they are mostly inaccessible to the rural population and the urban poor. Government institutions of advanced care suffer from low budgets and a lack of managerial talent.
Steps to improving access
The pathway to improving access lies in expanding the network of public sector facilities at all levels. This calls for higher levels of public financing, investment in training and incentivised placements of more health personnel and improved management through the creation of a public health management cadre. These measures have been envisaged (contemplate or conceive of as a possibility or a desirable future event.) in the National Health Policy, 2017 and need urgent and earnest implementation. Health-care providers in the private and voluntary sectors should be empanelled to fill the gaps through carefully crafted contracting mechanisms that best serve public interest.
Quality of care is determined by the extent to which appropriate care is provided in each clinical context. Here there must be an emphasis on the benefit and safety of tests and treatment, and ensuring that satisfaction levels of patients, families, care providers in the nature of institutional processes as well as human interactions are met. This requires ensuring conformity to accepted scientific and ethical standards. Here, the Clinical Establishments Act is a good beginning, in moving health-care facilities towards registration, ensuring compliance with essential standards of equipment and performance, adopting standard management guidelines, grievance redress (remedy or set right (an undesirable or unfair situation).) mechanisms, and respecting encoded patient rights.
Managing cost
Cost of care is a major challenge in a system where patients and families have to bear the burden. High out-of-pocket spending on health care leads to unacceptable levels ofimpoverishment (the process of becoming poor; loss of wealth.). With high levels of poverty and a very large segment of the working population in the informal sector, both private insurance and employer provided insurance can cover only small population segments. With a small risk pool, these schemes can only provide limited cost coverage to subscribers. Government-funded social insurance schemes do increase access to advanced care. But they have not been shown to provide financial protection as they cover only part of the hospitalisation cost and none of the expenses of prolonged outpatient care which forms a higher percentage of out-of-pocket spending.
The solution lies in doubling the level of public financing to at least 2.5% of GDP by 2019, rather than 2025, as proposed in the National Health Policy, and by pooling tax funding, all Central and State insurance schemes and employer-provided health insurance into a “single payer system”. That can be managed by an empowered autonomous authority which purchases services from a strengthened public sector and, as necessary, from empanelled private health-care providers. Quality is promoted through audited insistence on implementation of standard management guidelines by all service providers who enter this system, and cost is controlled by the negotiating power of the single payer. Since the risk pool is very large, there is a high level of cross- subsidisation of the sick by the healthy, the poor by the rich and the elderly retired by the young employed. The burden on an individual is greatly minimised.
Implemented piecemeal (characterized by unsystematic partial measures taken over a period of time.), these three areas of action will yield only limited results as access alone cannot assure appropriate or affordable care and cost subsidy will be meaningless if there is limited access or undependable quality. The UHC provides the framework in which all three elements can be integrated. The cry for stronger regulation of quality and cost is justified but regulation will fail to deliver needed health care to all if the health system architecture does not adopt UHC. Similarly, the success of UHC depends on effective regulation. Now, there is a disconnect between these two in ongoing health system reforms. It is time to bridge that gap if tragic tales of terrible health care are not to cause recurring lament (an expression of grief or sorrow.).

1. Mercenary (noun): (Primarily concerned with making money at the expense of ethics.)   (खुदगर्ज/स्वार्थी)
Synonyms: Money-Oriented, Acquisitive, Avaricious, Covetous, Rapacious.
Antonyms: Generous, Unselfish.
Example: A nun is the type of person who would never be viewed as mercenarybecause she does not care about money.

2. Stoke (verb): (Encourage or incite (a strong emotion or tendency).) (उकसाना)
Synonyms: Fuel, Poke, Incite, Stir, Goad, Provoke.
Antonyms: Appease, Placate, Soothe, Assuage.
Example: If someone is trying to stoke you into a verbal conflict, sometimes the best thing you can do is simply walk away from that person.
Verb forms: Stoke, Stoked, Stoked.

3. Callous (adjective): Showing or having an insensitive and cruel disregard for others. (कठोर/संवेदनाहीन)
Synonyms: Heartless, Unfeeling, Apathetic, Indifferent, Insensitive
Antonyms: Caring, Compassionate, Concerned
Example:  Despite her wealth, the old lady was a callous woman who never gave to anyone in need.
Related words:
Callousness (noun) - निर्दयता

4. Envisage (verb): Contemplate or conceive of as a possibility or a desirable future event. (विचार करना/गौर करना/संभावना का ध्यान करना)
Synonyms: Foresee, Forecast, Foretell, Anticipate, Expect, Envision
Antonyms: Disregard, Ignore
Example: In his speech, The newly appointed health minister envisaged a day when proper health care would be available to everyone.
Verb forms: Envisage, Envisaged, Envisaged

5. Copper-bottomed (adjective): (Thoroughly reliable; certain not to fail.)  विश्वसनीय/पक्का
Synonyms: Trustworthy, Reliable, Credible, Truthful, Trusty.
Antonyms: Doubtful, False, Unreliable.
Example: Because of Copper-bottomed information regarding possible terror attacks, the national threat level has been raised to alert.

6. Redress (verb): (Remedy or set right (an undesirable or unfair situation).) (सुधारना/निवारण करना)
Synonyms: Rectify, Correct, Right, Reform, Amend
Antonyms: Damage, Make Worse, aggravate
Example: The arbitrator will try and redress the grievances of the two partners so each will be satisfied upon leaving the meeting.
Verb forms: Redress, Redressed, Redressed
Related words:
Redressal (noun) - सुधार करना
Origin: From old French redresse .

7. Piecemeal (adverb): (Characterized by unsystematic partial measures taken over a period of time.) (अलग अलग करके/थोड़ा थोड़ा)
Synonyms: Little at a time, Piece by piece, Bit by bit, Gradually, Slowly, In stages, In steps, Step by step.
Antonyms: Suddenly.
Example: Building the pyramids took years because the required effort was extensive and required piecemeal progress.

8. Lament (noun): Express passionate grief about. / express regret or disappointment about something. (शोक प्रकट करना/विलाप करना)
Synonyms: Mourn, Grieve, Bemoan, Bewail
Antonyms: Celebrate, Laud
Example: Bollywood  fraternity lament with the passing of an iconic actor Shashi Kapoor.
Verb forms: Lament, Lamented, Lamented
Related words:
Lamentation (noun) – विलाप
Lamentable (adjective) – शोकजनक
Origin: from Latin lamenta (plural) ‘weeping, wailing’.

9. Solicitude (noun): (Care or concern for someone or something.) (चिंता/ सहानुभूति)
Synonyms: Concern, Care, Attentiveness, Mindfulness, Considerateness, Thoughtfulness, Solicitousness.
Antonyms: Carelessness, Disregard, Disrespect, Heedlessness, Ignorance.
Example: A mother always displays some solicitude for her children.
Origin: from Latin sollicitus 

10. Despair (noun): (The complete loss or absence of hope.) (आशाहीनता/निराशा)
Synonyms: Desperation, Despondency, Gloom, Melancholy, Disheartenment.
Antonyms: Cheer, Joyfulness, Pleasure.
Example: Losing his father was hard enough, but losing his mother one week later caused him to fall into deep despair.
Verb forms: Despair, Despaired, Despaired.
Related words:
Despair (verb) – Lose Hope
Origin: from Latin desperare, from de- ‘down from’ + sperare ‘to hope’.
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