Curb Individualism in Public Health

Curb Individualism in Public Health

Curb Individualism in Public Health

The topic is based on how to curb individualism in Public Health 

Significance for Prelims: Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) scheme.

Significance for Mains: Necessity to Curb individualism in public health.

News: To safeguard public health’s original principles of practice like population, prevention, and social justice all forms of individualistic approaches need to be resisted.

Issues with Public Health

  • Ineffective and unsustainable solutions to complex problems: The problems are not examined and interpreted from a population perspective.
  • Individualist solutions like micronutrient supplementation and food fortification for problems such as undernutrition.
  • In the case of chronic disease control, the focus is not on modifying health behaviors through organized community action but early diagnosis and treatment is the most popular solution.

Case Study: Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) scheme 

  • It is a nationwide publicly-funded largest health insurance scheme that falls under Ayushman Bharat.
  • It covers hospitalization expenses for a family for ₹5 lakh a year.
  • The goal of the PMJAY scheme is to ensure no financial burden to the beneficiary through  ‘free’ curative care services for all kinds of hospitalization services.
  • Issues with the scheme: The entire scheme is silent on the need for hospitalization services per year for any population and there is an individualistic response to the hospitalization expenditure problem faced by populations.

Approach to COVID-19 vaccination: 

  • The approach to the pandemic or focus of the vaccination program is on every individual instead of the entire population. Like if you get COVID-19, you will not need hospitalization and not die.
  • During the course of the entire crisis, not much is talked about the grossly inadequate healthcare infrastructure. Inadequate primary, secondary, and tertiary care services for COVID-19 patients lead to many casualties.

Reasons for the dominance of individualism in public health:

  • Defects in the Policy due to the dominance of biomedical knowledge and philosophy in the field of public health.
  • ‘visibility’ of health impacts among the general public: At the individual level,  improvements in health effects are more visible and appear, wherein improvements at the population level will be clear only after population-level analysis.
  • Consumerism in this practice: The market plays an important role in the practice. Consumerist society propagates individualism as every individual can be a potential ‘customer’ in the face of risk and susceptibility.

Way forward:

  • Strengthening sustainable approaches like Public Distribution Systems, supplementary nutrition programs, and health services.
  • Individualism: There is a strong tendency in the issue to prioritize individual-oriented interventions over societal-oriented population-based approaches.
  • Population-level planning: Policymakers should consider the population as a single unit.

Mains( 2015): 

  • The public health system has limitations in providing universal health coverage. Do you think that the private sector could help in bridging the gap? What other viable alternatives would you suggest?


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