Importance of Proximity to Outpatient Care Facilities in Rural India

T. R. Dilip, Rajeev Sadanandan, Sunil Nandraj


The paper illustrates the additional travel and associated burden while accessing outpatient care services in Rural India. Analysis based on the 75th round of National Sample Survey (2017-18) on ‘Health Care Consumption’, showed that only 54 per cent people in rural India were able to avail outpatient care within their locality in comparison with 94 per cent in urban India. The need to travel outside their rural locality is lowest for those seeking care from private clinic/doctor (62%), followed by those seeking government facilities (56%). The utilization of outpatient services from their localities were more for non-chronic ailments (62%) than for chronic ailments (46%). Those seeking health care outside their locality reported higher out of pocket expenditure and had higher loss in household income due to outpatient treatment. Results indicate the achievement of the long-standing goals set for establishing adequately staffed PHCs and CHCs in rural areas and a provision to provide incentives to set up health facilities in remote rural areas is essential to ensure equitable access to basic health care in here. Since the establishment of specialized care in all the rural areas is financially not viable, the solution suggested here is to compensate the rural population for travel and other related costs.

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