Khushboo Jain

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5 Ways In Which Crowdfunding Can Help Support Universal Health Coverage

To understand these similarities more closely, we look at 5 ways in which crowdfunding can help support the UHC in achieving its goal:

India’s population in 2020 was estimated to be 1.38 billion people, making it the second most populous country in the world. As such, India has experienced challenges as well as opportunities in the context of public health. In fact, the 2018 National Sample Survey revealed some eye-opening statistics on India’s health insurance coverage - showing over 80% of Indians as not covered under health insurance. To improve health outcomes and reduce health inequalities between different groups in society, India urgently needs to implement Universal Health Coverage (UHC). 

While adopting Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, 193 nations of the world set UHC as one of its targets for a safer, fairer and healthier world by 2030. The UHC was set up to ensure that no individual would face financial hardships while acquiring health services. 

Unexpected illnesses force people to use up their life savings, sell assets or borrow which inadvertently harms the financial security of their futures, their day to day living conditions as well as those of their families. In India, more and more patients are now visiting private hospitals owing to their better quality of services, up-to-date infrastructure and shorter queues. In the absence of health insurance, this results in many Indians using up their life-savings to bear medical expenses. For many then, getting critical healthcare may mean being plunged into a life-time of poverty and destitution. 

Over the years, medical crowdfunding has become one of the solutions for this worrying problem not only in India but also the world over. It has helped people finance their medical expenses with generous contributions from donors online. In fact, crowdfunding saw an exponential rise in India during the pandemic - a time of great medical calamity - as some sites averaged at least 2.5 donations per minute post COVID. 

Medical crowdfunding and the Universal Health Coverage have many similarities since both pursue a common goal - to reduce the burden of medical expenses on every patient and ensure quality healthcare for all.  

To understand these similarities more closely, we look at 5 ways in which crowdfunding can help support the UHC in achieving its goal:

  1. No payback liability 

Funds raised on crowdfunding platforms count as donations and hence, don’t need to be paid back by the patient. Since there is no concept of loan or borrowings attached with crowdfunding, patients can avail of the best treatments without worrying about the treatment costs. 

To sum it up, crowdfunding can help prevent patients and their families from being pushed into debt when they pay for health services out of their own pockets.  

  1. By raising awareness around rare diseases 

Over the years, crowdfunding has not only helped finance medical treatments but also brought attention to many rare diseases. The treatment costs for rare and fatal diseases like SMA, Gaucher’s, DMD and Pompe are exorbitant.  

Crowdfunding platforms in India are also gaining recognition as they have helped raise funds for such diseases which would otherwise be unaffordable and inaccessible for many people.  

  1. By educating and training healthcare professionals 

To make UHC attainable, adequate and competent healthcare workers are required who are evenly distributed among different sectors. According to a report, more than 18 million additional health workers will be needed by the year 2030. The growing demand for health workers will add an estimated 40 million health sector jobs to the global economy by 2030.  

To address this demand, crowdfunding sites in India have started campaigns which cater specifically to the education, training and upskilling of healthcare workers. Crowdfunding can lend a helping hand to the UHC in sourcing more than 18 million healthcare workers by 2030. 

  1. Crowdfunding is for everyone 

The treatment of certain critical illnesses like cancer and SMA can cost upto crores of rupees. Many middle and even upper-middle class families have resorted to crowdfunding after seeking other financial options such as loans, medical insurance and even selling or mortgaging their own assets! 

The United Nations (UN) right to health gives every person the fundamental right to obtain healthcare services without any disparity. Crowdfunding platforms follow the same principle wherein any patient can start a fundraiser for their medical treatment irrespective of their financial status.  

  1. Connects people who want to help 

With the imposition of the nation-wide lockdown during Covid-19, there were many who were looking at different means of making a social impact, as getting on the ground wasn’t an option for all. Since crowdfunding was done online, people could donate to fundraisers from within the safety of their homes amidst concerns of contracting the virus. Medical crowdfunding accentuated the art of giving while also providing the best of treatments to the needy patients. 

The Universal Health Coverage 2030 mission embodies a safer, fairer and healthier world by strengthening health systems at global and country levels. Making UHC possible requires coordinated efforts among multiple sectors to develop a strong and sustainable healthcare system.  

Crowdfunding platforms can provide much needed support in helping the UHC achieve their goals. With a constant rise in medical crowdfunding, the UHC can get closer to its goal of providing health services for all by 2030! 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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