Long wait over for comprehensive health care guarantee

17 Mar 2017 | By Anupama Vijayakumar

Decades in the making, the National Health Policy was finally launched in the Parliament, aiming to raise public expenditure in health sector.

The Policy attempts to plug gaping holes in India's public health care system by adopting a comprehensive approach and providing health service assurance to all citizens.

It strongly underlines the role of government in moulding health systems and its various dimensions.

In context: NHP, 2017: Could "Modicare" solve India's Health Issues?

16 Mar 2017Cabinet Approves National Health Policy

The Cabinet, in its first meeting post elections in five states, approved the Nationals Health Policy, intended to assure health services to all citizens.

The current version of the policy has been pending since January'15.

While noting that the present laws should be adapted to suit the health-care situation in India, the draft also looked at universal coverage and increasing access to health services.

17 Mar 2017Long wait over for comprehensive health care guarantee

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17 Mar 2017National Healthcare Policy: From "Sickness" to "Wellness"

Health minister J.P. Nadda unveiled the National Health Policy in the Parliament. Calling it a "milestone" in India's health care sector, he underlined the Policy shift from merely treating "sickness" to "preventive and promotive wellness".

The policy floats many ambitious plans including free health care services in public hospitals, increasing public expenditure in health and digitization of family health care.

AboutNew Health Policy to be patient-centric

Previously released in 2002, the Policy seeks to address emerging challenges brought about by socio-economic and technological changes.

Released first on 31st December 2014, the Policy has been drafted after the incorporation of about 5000 suggestions and consultations with state governments and relevant stakeholders.

Health Minister J.P. Nadda noted that, "the policy is patient-centric and empowers patients for resolution of all their problems."

Getting there step by step

Policy targets including leprosy eradication by 2018 and measles by 2020 had been earlier included in Union Budget 2017. Targets for reduction of Infant and Maternal Mortality rates and upgrading of 1.5 lakh Health and Wellness Centres had also been part of the same.

FeaturesTall Claims

Increasing public expenditure on healthcare (to 2.5% of GDP), the NHP strives to provide comprehensive and integrated package through heavy focus on primary health centres and district hospitals.

Collaboration with private sector is envisaged wherever the government cannot step in.

It further envisions the setting up of a National Health Care Standards Organization and a separate tribunal for formulating standards and dispute resolution respectively.

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CriticismUnanswered questions

While providing a strong "assurance" towards health services, the Policy stops short of terming "Right to Health" a legal entitlement. This can be seen as a move to keep legal consequences aside.

The Policy has also abandoned the institution of a health cess, present in the earlier draft.

Crucial questions concerning implementation remain unanswered as bodies like NHSO cannot function without individual state legislations.