India

Draft National Health Policy may get Cabinet's nod soon

25 Jul 2016 | By Ramya
The long-pending National Health Policy

The draft National Health Policy, which has been pending for two years now, is expected to be placed before the Cabinet next month.

If the draft Policy proposed by Health Ministry gets approved, health, similar to education, would be declared as a fundamental right.

A senior official of the health ministry said a Cabinet note regarding the same has already been sent.

In context: The long-pending National Health Policy

2014-15Centre prepares draft National Health Policy

In Dec'14, the Centre had prepared a draft National Health Policy, 2015 to transform the health status of millions in India.

In Jan'15, the Health Ministry made the draft public for comments/suggestions from stakeholders till 28 Feb'15.

However, the draft Policy got stuck, as the stakeholders criticized that it was too long and didn't provide a mechanism for the implementation of its agenda.

Fundamental right for every Indian

The draft policy states: "The government will never falter in our generations-long fight to guarantee health coverage as a fundamental right for every Indian. As part of that guarantee, the government should be able to access public coverage through Medicare as a fundamental right."
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25 Jul 2016Draft National Health Policy may get Cabinet's nod soon

Several rounds of discussions

A health ministry official stated: "The Ministry had held several rounds of discussions with stakeholders, including states and other government departments, and consensus had been built on its proposals. It should be placed before the Cabinet in another week or 10 days."
'Denial of Health' - an offence

Offence'Denial of Health' - an offence

The draft National Health Policy reportedly recommends a 'National Health Policy Act'; according to it, "denial of health" would be considered an offence.

It proposes that the Centre and states work together to ensure that health is a fundamental right by using the legal clause under the Clinical Establishments Bill.

It suggests increasing public health expenditure from the current 1.2% of GDP to 2.5%.

Issues AddressedIssues addressed by the draft Policy

The draft addresses various issues, including making 'universal health coverage' available and reducing the maternal & infant mortality rate.

Making free diagnostics and drugs available in public healthcare centers is also suggested.

It suggests reviewing and amending laws, including the Mental Health Bill, Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, Surrogacy law, and Food & Drug Safety law and aligning them with the present healthcare scenario.

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Implementation framework

According to the health ministry office, "Once it (the draft Policy) gets Cabinet approval, we will come out with an implementation framework, which will suggest mechanisms, guidelines, and protocols to implement the agenda set in the policy."