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Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: Odisha figures among the top -ten unhealthy states in the country. In a short span of 15-days, the total persons reportedly ailing in Odisha stood at a whopping 37 lakh.

The recently released National Sample Survey (NSS) report titled Household Social consumption in India: Health reveals the state of health of people across 36 states & UTs in the country.

Significantly, the report finds urban Odisha more ailing than rural Odisha. When a high of 11.2 per cent of urban population were found to be reportedly ailing during the survey period by NSS, the proportion in rural Odisha stood lower at 8.7 per cent.

Another significant result to fore is when higher proportion of rural females are found to be reportedly ailing, in urban Odisha, ailing males are marginally higher than females. According to the report, 9.2 per cent females are ailing vis-a-vis 8.2 ailing males in rural Odisha. Whereas, in urban Odisha, the proportion of ailing males to ailing females stood at 11.8 versus 11.7, respectively.

These big findings allude to a host of factors. While the prevailing patriarchal set up is responsible for more ailing rural females, higher urban ailing population is attributed to the lifestyle diseases taking roots in urban Odisha.

However, in absolute numbers, the rural population in Odisha found reportedly ailing was counted at a staggering 28.9 lakh compared to 7.8 lakh in urban Odisha.

The simple reason behind the big headline numbers is rural population in Odisha is around 83 per cent vis-a-vis 17 per cent urban population.

As per the report, Odisha is seventh most ailing state in the country after Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Lakshadweep.

The discernible finding is, it's not the BIMARU (Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh) states that have proportion of higher ailing persons, rather developed states like Kerala and Punjab topped the ailing charts in the country.

With regard to healthcare service provider in Odisha, government hospitals emerged at the top by catering to health care of a massive 56.8 per cent of State's population.

However, a significant observation is private clinics or doctors emerge as the 2nd healthcare provider in Odisha as they cater to the health needs of nearly one-third of the population (around 32 per cent).  

Above all, when the average medical expenses in Odisha is not among the highest, the outstanding fact is expenses on medicines in rural Odisha is in the top-10 costliest list among 36 states &UTs.

The NSS report pegged expenditure on medicines in rural Odisha at 68 per cent of total medical expenses by ailing persons taking treatment in public hospitals.

The expenses on medicines in private hospitals in rural Odisha stood at around 22.3 per cent of total treatment expenses compared to around 23 per cent in treatment at private hospitals in urban Odisha.

The watch out factor here is when the doctors fee in private hospitals in rural Odisha account for 19.7 per cent of total treatment expenses, its mere 2.2 per cent in public hospitals.

So, the big question is are the doctors at Odisha rural government hospitals prescribing more medicines to reap a windfall from pharma stores and Pharma Cos?

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