National Health Policy gets Cabinet nod
The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the National Health Policy, aimed at ensuring free health services in villages.
First issued as a draft in 2015, the policy aims at tackling non-communicable diseases, upgrading district health centres and ensuring the improvement of immunisation facilities in district health centres.
Non-communicable diseases include diabetes and kidney ailments. The government has begun training the personnel that will be deployed in rural areas.
The policy also aims to ensure enough public health facilities in rural areas. As of March 2016, 25,354 primary health centres (PHCs) were operational.
While the major focus of the National Health Policy is on non-communicable diseases, the government will work to ensure maternal health, and child and adolescent health at the district centres.
While the National Health Policy’s (2017) target is to spend 4-5 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) on healthcare services, India has not been spending 2 per cent of GDP to provide healthcare services.
During discussions the government planned to use health insurance programmes to tackle the lack of fiscal buoyancy. The government is also working towards digitising the health records at the district health centres. The policy aims at ensuring there is enough capacity at all public health centres (PHCs).
The government will also work to create quality laboratories where key tests can be performed.
The government’s focus through the policy is also alternative methods of treatment — AYUSH. This will be through developing infrastructural facilities of teaching institutions, improving the quality control of drugs, capacity building of institutions and professionals, building research and public health skills of practical utility and initiating community-based AYUSH interventions for preventive and promotive healthcare. The new health policy comes 15 years after the last policy was introduced. The old policy was introduced in 2002. The chairman of the health committee at the PHD Chamber of Commerce, Nishant Berlia, said: “The new policy is a welcome move because there was a need for an updated health policy.”