What you need to know about the proposed National Health Policy

hos010 Casualty ward of a government hospital in New Delhi | AFP

The Union Health Ministry’s National Health Policy draft will be submitted to cabinet soon. If the policy gets accepted, health may become a fundamental right, similar to that of education. While we await submission of the plan, here is everything you need to know about the proposed changes in the draft:

The draft has been pending for two years
The ministry is reported to have held several meetings with other government departments and stakeholders to gain acceptance over the proposal. The policy was placed in public domain in January, inviting external comments, and is expected to be sent to the cabinet early in August.

The ministry wants to spend more on health
India currently spends a bleak 1.04 per cent of its' GDP on health, making it one of the lowest in the world with an amount that comes up to roughly Rs. 957 per capita. One of the targets in the draft policy is to hike this up to 2.5 per cent, which would bring that amount up to Rs. 3,800, a substantially larger amount.

A key focus of the draft is the maternal mortality rate
There are a few central issues the draft focuses on—maternal and infant mortality, the availability of universal health coverage, and ensuring medical care is freely available in public health facilities. One proposed method to accomplish this suggests contracting out tertiary services such as housekeeping or catering to the private sector, while letting the public sector focus on strictly medical care such as diagnostics.

A bulk of funding may come from taxation
The draft acknowledges 40 per cent of the suggested increase will need to come from central expenditure, stating the projected figures for economic growth will mean that there is enough fiscal capacity to do so. Commodity taxation from goods such as alcohol or cigarettes, and special taxation on extractive industries (projects that take away natural habitats, for example) have also been recommended.

The draft has its' critics
One of the main points that have been brought up is the draft's lack of focus on communicable diseases, which account for nearly 75 per cent of mortalities. Maternal care, which the policy has focused on, accounts for just about 10 per cent of mortalities, and so an imbalance of priority is clearly visible. The lack of clarity in regards to sources for funding has also been called attention to.

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Topics : #health

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