India’s Supreme Court has allowed the government to buy the healthcare of the elderly.
The decision comes after several years of legal wrangling over the purchase of healthcare for the nation’s 1.3 billion citizens.
In a landmark decision, the apex court ruled on Monday that the government can buy the medical treatment of the poor, including for the elderly, under the Right to Food (Rs.
4,000 crore) Act, 2017.
The government has not yet announced the details of the purchase, but the Supreme Court order is likely to allow the purchase and payment of the healthcare costs of those over 60.
Under the Right To Food Act, all beneficiaries must be provided with healthcare, including medical treatment, regardless of age.
The purchase of health care for the poorest is part of the government’s “New Vision 2025” to tackle chronic underfunding of healthcare in the country, according to a report by The Hindu.
India’s population is ageing fast and the country has a population of 2.2 billion, with over 563 million of them aged over 65.
The number of elderly citizens is expected to hit 10 million by 2020.
While the number of beneficiaries under the age of 60 is expected continue to grow, the number who are eligible for retirement and the number under the Age Pension scheme (APPS) is set to remain stable.
In 2019, the National Health Mission was set up under the New Vision 2025 to reduce the burden of healthcare on the nation and improve the quality of healthcare delivered to the elderly through the National Public Health Mission (NPHM).
Under the NPHM, the government was responsible for the provision of healthcare to the nation, including healthcare for those aged 65 and above, in a manner that maximised the quality and efficiency of healthcare delivery.