National Health Policy

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National Health Policy

AN ASPIRATION AND VISION WITH A VALUE OF SERVING THE COMMON MAN

COMPREHENSIVE HEALTHCARE PACKAGE GUARANTEED WITH ASSURANCE

To make healthcare accessible in a “guaranteed manner” to all, the National Health Policy 2017 aims to address current and emerging challenges arising from the ever-changing socioeconomic, technological and epidemiological scenarios.

The Union Cabinet in March approved the National Health Policy 2017 after having deferred it twice before. The last health policy was issued 15 years ago in 2002.

This policy looks at problems and solutions holistically with private sector as strategic partners. It seeks to promote quality of care, focus on emerging diseases and investment in promotive and preventive healthcare. The policy is patient centric and quality driven. It addresses health security and make in India for drugs and devices.

Announcing the policy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi aspires to create an ecosystem where quality and accessibility in healthcare could be accomplished with a collective stakeholder approach in a time bound manner.

Affordable and Accessible Healthcare

National Health Policy 2017 proposes free drugs, free diagnostics and free emergency and essential health care services in all public hospitals in a bid to provide access and financial protection.

An aspiration with a value

Prime Minister Narendra Modi puts it, “The National Health policy marks a historic moment in our endeavour to create a healthy India where everyone has access to quality healthcare.” What lies at the core is primary healthcare. The policy seeks to reach everyone in a comprehensive integrated way to move towards wellness. It aims at achieving universal health coverage and delivering quality health care services to all at affordable cost.

Health Minister J P Nadda says the policy advocates a progressively incremental assurance-based approach. It envisages providing larger package of assured comprehensive primary health care through the ‘Health and Wellness Centre’s and denotes important change from very selective to comprehensive primary health care package which includes care for major NCDs [non-communicable diseases], mental health, geriatric health care, palliative care and rehabilitative care services.

It aims to allocate major proportion of resources to primary care and intends to ensure availability of two beds per 1,000 populations distributed in a manner to enable access within golden hour [the first hour after traumatic injury, when the victim is most likely to benefit from emergency treatment].

In addition, the policy proposes free drugs, free diagnostics and free emergency and essential health care services in all public hospitals in a bid to provide access and financial protection.

Boost to AYUSH

It also envisages a three-dimensional integration of AYUSH systems encompassing cross referrals, colocation and integrative practices across systems of medicines. It also boasts of having an effective grievance redressal mechanism.

Impact on Gross Domestic Product

The policy proposes raising public health expenditure to 2.5 per cent of the GDP in a time-bound manner. According to the Health Minister, the 2.5 per cent of GDP spend target for this sector would be met by 2025.

Key Targets

Among key targets, the policy intends to increase life expectancy at birth from 67.5 to 70 by 2025 and reduce infant mortality rate to 28 by 2019. It also aims to reduce under five mortality to 23 by the year 2025. Besides, it intends to achieve the global 2020 HIV target.

Assurance Based

The indication that the policy would adopt an “assurance based approach” itself abandons a radical change proposed in the draft policy of 2015 — that of a National Health Rights Act aimed at making health a right. It replicates portions of the health section of the 2017 Budget speech given by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. It reiterates health spend targets set by the High Level Expert Group (HLEG) set up by the erstwhile Planning Commission for the 12th Five Year Plan (which ends on March 31, 2017), in addition to failing to make health a justifiable right in the way the Right to Education 2005 did for school education.

The policy envisages strategic purchase of secondary and tertiary care services as a short term measure to supplement and fill critical gaps in the health system.

The Policy recommends prioritizing the role of the Government in shaping health systems in all its dimensions. The roadmap of this new policy is predicated on public spending and provisioning of a public healthcare system that is comprehensive, integrated and accessible to all.

Collaborative Approach

The NHP, 2017 advocates a positive and proactive engagement with the private sector for critical gap filling towards achieving national goals. It envisages private sector collaboration for strategic purchasing, capacity building, skill development programmes, awareness generation, developing sustainable networks for community to strengthen mental health services, and disaster management. The policy also advocates financial and nonincentives for encouraging the private sector participation.

National Health Policy aims
to allocate major proportion of resources
to primary care and intends to ensure
availability of two beds per 1,000
population distributed in a manner to
enable access within golden hour
[the first hour after traumatic injury,
when the victim is most likely to benefit
from emergency treatment].
In addition, the policy proposes
free drugs, free diagnostics and
free emergency and essential health
care services in all public hospitals
in a bid to provide access and
financial protection.

It seeks to ensure improved access and affordability of quality secondary and tertiary care services through a combination of public hospitals and strategic purchasing in healthcare deficit areas from accredited non-governmental healthcare providers, achieve significant reduction in out of pocket expenditure due to healthcare costs, reinforce trust in public healthcare system and influence operation and growth of private healthcare industry as well as medical technologies in alignment with public health goals.

Preventive Healthcare

The policy affirms commitment to pre-emptive care (aimed at preempting the occurrence of diseases) to achieve optimum levels of child and adolescent health. The policy envisages school health programmes as a major focus area as also health and hygiene being made a part of the school curriculum.

In order to leverage the pluralistic health care legacy, the policy recommends mainstreaming the different health systems. Towards mainstreaming the potential of AYUSH the policy envisages better access to AYUSH remedies through co-location in public facilities. Yoga would also be introduced much more widely in school and work places as part of promotion of good health.

The policy supports voluntary service in rural and under-served areas on pro-bono basis by recognized healthcare professionals under a ‘giving back to society’ initiative.

The policy advocates extensive deployment of digital tools for improving the efficiency and outcome of the healthcare system and proposes establishment of National Digital Health Authority (NDHA) to regulate, develop and deploy digital health across the continuum of care.

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