The first and the most important step towards addressing these disparities and their effect on the healthcare system is to challenge the existing social attitudes. We need to remember that it is these very attitudes that create social classes and sustain the resultant social stratification.
While the ultimate responsibility to do so lies with the society, the state itself needs to get involved in addressing these social and economic fault lines in order to achieve a more broad-based and equitable healthcare system for all those living within its borders, irrespective of their social, cultural, ethnic or economic background.
The enhanced government role in terms of increased budgetary outlay for the health sector and greater operational autonomy for the facilities operating in this sector is certainly a step in the right direction, but it needs to be accompanied by an effective network of regulatory bodies and contractual frameworks to monitor, evaluate and direct the performance of the various healthcare facilities and social services organizations working in different parts of the country. Similarly, an environment of cooperation as well as competition needs to be promoted amongst the various hospitals operating across the country. Also, measures need to be taken to address the twin issues of quality of healthcare access on the horizontal level and the disparities in treatment patterns on the vertical level. Lastly, health disparities arising as a result of racial profiling or sexual orientation also demand an increased amount of state attention in terms of legislative measures to protect the interests of these vulnerable sections of the society.
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