- After being deferred twice before, the Union Cabinet approved the National Health Policy on Wednesday (March 15).
- The policy proposes to provide “assured health services to all” in India.
- Government officials said the Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, gave its nod to the policy.
- The policy makes health an entitlement, but not a fundamental right as draft policy had envisaged.
- The policy falls short of a legislative backing for right to health.
About National Health Policy
Health ministry officials said in a major policy shift, the policy increases the gambit of sectors covered in Primary Health Centre (PHC) level and envisages a comprehensive approach.
“For example, till now PHCs were only for immunisation, anti-natal check-ups and others. But, what is a major policy shift is that now it will also include screening non-communicable diseases and a whole lot of other aspects,” a senior official said on the condition of anonymity.
The official said under the new policy, there will also be a bigger focus on upgradation of district hospitals and for the first time, there will be an implementation framework in place.
Focus area of the policy
- Promote universal access to good quality of medical services without anyone facing financial hardship.
- Deliver health-care services to tribal and socially-vulnerable population groups in India.
- Establish Public Health Management Cadre (PHMC) in all the states.
- Ensure public hospitals provide universal access to wide array of free drugs and diagnostics.
- To eliminate Kalazar and LF by 2017, leprosy by 2018, TB and blindness by 2025. Also, it will strongly focus on non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
- The policy envisages a three dimensional integration of AYUSH systems encompassing cross referrals, co-location and integrative practices across systems of medicines.
- This has a huge potential for effective prevention and therapy,that is safe and cost-effective.
- Yoga would be introduced much more widely in schools and work places as part of promotion of good health.
“Our target is to bring down Premature Mortality, Diabetics, cardio vascular diseases, cancer and respiratory diseases by 25 percent, by 2025. Universal screening for cervix cancer and high blood pressure have been taken to 100 districts this year.”
JP Nadda, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare
Pending for two years
The proposed National Health Policy, which has been pending for the past two years, aims to provide assured health services to people as an “entitlement”.
The Cabinet note, which had been given earlier, however, had not talked about making health a “fundamental right” as it will have “legal consequences”, but proposed assured health services.
The draft also addressed the issues of universal health coverage, reducing maternal and infant mortality rate, as well as making drugs and diagnostics available free at least in the public healthcare system of the country. It suggests the Centre must amend laws to align them with the current healthcare scenario.