“National Health Policy makes an “Assurance” of basic affordable health services for all.”
Introduction:Union Cabinet on March 15, 2017 approved the National Health Policy 2017 (NHP) aimed to provide assured health services to people as an entitlement. NHP states about increasing public expenditure on health to 2.5 per cent of GDP by imposing a Health Cess. NHP has been brought after two years of deliberations since 2015 and after 15 years since the last national health policy that was framed in 2002. NHP was unveiled in the Lok Sabha by Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, J P Nadda on March 16, 2017.
Aims of NHP:NHP intends to improve the health care system in the country significantly. NHP aims to strengthen the Primary Healthcare Centers (PHCs) through enhancement of public-private partnerships. Currently, PHCs handle only immunisation, anti-natal checkups etc. NHC states that PHCs would also include screening Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). NHC also aims to address the issues concerning Universal Health Coverage, Reduction in the Maternal & Infant Mortality Rates, a betterment of immunisation, etc. Since Healthcare is a State Subject, NHP suggests that the Centre must amend laws to bring it on the concurrent list in order to upgrade the healthcare system in the country keeping in tune with the current health scenario. NHP also emphasises on medical research.
Highlights of NHP:
- NHP encourages the budgetary support for the development of basic affordable, alternative, indigenous systems of medicine through an increase in public health expenditure from the current level of 1.4% of GDP to 2.5%.
- NHP mentions that 40% of this raised public health expenditure would come from central sources.
- NHP would explore a tax-based method to raise funds for meeting the increased public health expenditure through the creation of a health cess.
- NHP proposes two-third spending of the budgetary outlay on the primary health sector.
- NHP advocates a progressively incremental assurance-based approach.
- NHP proposes Health and Wellness Centers for the primary health care.
- NHP aims to reduce out-of-pocket expenditure on healthcare.
- NHP intends to raise investments in health, reorganisation and financing of health care services.
- NHP notes that health spending annually pushes 60 million Indians into poverty due to huge health costs incurred.
- NHP aims to ensure universal access to affordable healthcare services.
- NHC states that “Assured” health services will be defined and notified later by the Government.
- NHP aims to reduce maternal and infant mortality rate.
- NHP intends to address the issue of increasing medical expenditures on account of NCDs like cancer, diabetes and heart disorders.
- NHP proposes building public-private partnerships (PPPs) to deliver health care needs and services.
- NHP aims to focus on tackling the issues relating to NCDs and the increase in deaths associated with NCDs.
- NHP also focuses on mental health, geriatric health care, palliative care and rehabilitative care services.
- NHP emphasises on medical and health research to improve the current health scenario.
- NHP aims to ensure availability of 2 beds in the hospitals per 1000 population to enable access within the golden hour [the first hour after traumatic injury, when the victim is most likely to benefit from emergency treatment].
- NHP intends to make available free emergency care services in all public hospitals.
- NHP intends to look into antibiotic resistance and to tackle the abuse of antibiotics by the humans for themselves and also for the livestock.
- NHC aims to introduce Yoga much more widely in schools and in workplaces.
- NHC aims to increase the average life expectancy to 70 years from the current 67.5 years by 2025.
- NHC proposes to make drugs and diagnostics available free at all public hospitals and at least in the PHCs.
- NHP also proposes betterment in the secondary and tertiary healthcare facilities through improved technology along with human resources at various levels with appropriate skills.
- NHP speaks of more empowerment of regulatory frameworks for food and drugs control.
- NHP also looks at reforms for easing manufacturing of drugs.
- NHP emphasises on the prevention of diseases and promotion of good health by way of building the knowledge base required for better health.
- NHP seeks to prioritise the role of the government in reshaping overall health system.
- NHP intends to address the current and emerging health challenges necessitated by the changing socio-economic, technological and epidemiological scenario.
- NHP aims to be patient-centric, making patient empowered regarding redressal and treatment. Standards of medical treatment would be set up and in case of sub-standard treatment is done then the tribunals to be set up would take up the matter of redressal of grievances.
- NHP also envisages a three-dimensional integration of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy systems abbreviated as AYUSH, encompassing cross referrals, co-location and integrative practices across systems of medicines.
Responses towards NHP:Prime Minister Narendra Modi stated that NHP is comprehensive, futuristic and transformative and placing the interests of the citizens first & foremost and would greatly benefit the poor and the middle-class people and especially the underprivileged to get access to quality healthcare. NHP would mark a paradigm shift in “Indian Healthcare System as it marks a historic moment in Government’s endeavour to create a healthy India where everyone has access to quality healthcare.”
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