An autonomous research institute under the Ministry of Finance


Health Care Status in India

Publication date

Jan, 1999


Report submitted to the Ford Foundation.


A. L. Nagar


Health and human development form integral components of the overall socio-economic development of a nation. Measured in terms of the two most widely used indicators of health status, namely, (i) life expectancy at birth, and (ii) infant mortality rate, the health status in India has improved considerably over time. But, achievement has been limited compared to some other developing countries. For example, during 1960 and 1993, life expectancy at birth in India increased by only 38 percent against 46 percent in China, 53 percent in Indonesia and 34 percent in all developing countries. Infant mortality rate decreased by 51 percent in India as against 71 percent in China, 76 percent in Sri Lanka, 65 percent in Thailand, 82 percent in Malaysia (the lowest in developing countries being 13 percent). Health status in India is not only below that of many developing countries taken individually, but also below that of all developing countries taken together. Recording an average per capita annual income of about Rs. 6,200 (US $ 350), India is placed in the middle range of low-income countries. For a country with this level of income, India spends a relatively significant amount on health care, that is, 6 percent of the GDP, but the returns in terms of health improvement have been poor. Further, as compared to other countries barring a few developed nations, the total health expenditure in India is fairly high at $17,750 million in 1990. Other countries, such as China, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia which spend a smaller amount on health (not only in absolute terms but also in per capita terms) are found to have better health status in terms of infant mortality rates and life expectancy.

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