National Health Policy 2017
The National Health Policy 2017 (NHP, 2017) has been announced by the central government on 16 March 2017. Earlier in 2016, the Supreme Court had directed the central government to make a strong and effective health policy which must focus everyone in a comprehensive and integrated way to move in the direction of wellness. The new policy looks much positive to provide a better healthcare system accessible to all and well equipped of provisions to address the anomalies of existing policies.
The questions based on the schemes and the policies of the government asked every year in IAS Prelims and IAS Mains Exam. Here, we have provided an analysis of the National Health Policy 2017, which is very important in terms of IAS Exam 2017.
Probable Questions for IAS Mains Exam
Q1. The Public Health sector in India is in urgent need of a higher government spending. Discuss
Q2. What are the positive impacts of the recently announced National Health Policy 2017 (NHP 2017) by the government?
Q3. Discuss the relevance of the National Health Policy 2017 with respect to the existing issues in India’s healthcare sector.
Q4. Critically analyse the National Health Policy 2017.
The National Health Policy, 2017 (NHP, 2017) adopted a detailed procedure for its formulation concerning stakeholder consultations. Accordingly, the Government of India formulated the Draft National Health Policy and placed it in the public domain on 30th December 2014. Thereafter, following detailed consultations with the stakeholders and State Governments, based on the suggestions received, the Draft National Health Policy was further fine-tuned. It received the support of the Central Council for Health & Family Welfare, the apex policy-making body, in its 12th Conference held on 27th February 2016.
The last health policy was formulated in the year 2002. The socio-economic and epidemiological changes since then call for the formulation of a New National Health Policy to address the current and emerging challenges.
Objective of the NHP 2017
- To achieve the optimal level of better health and well-being, through a preventive and promotive health care arrangements in all development policies.
- To achieve universal access to good quality health care services without anyone having to face financial hardship as a consequence.
Key Highlights and Positive Impact of the National Health Policy 2017
- The new Health Policy 2017 now offers an opportunity to systematically rectify well-known existing deficiencies through a stronger National Health Mission.
- In order to promote quality of care, the focus of the NHP 2017 is on emerging diseases and investment in promotive and preventive healthcare for which the private sector will be strategic partners.
- In an initiative of major capacity expansion to produce more number of MBBS graduates took place between the year 2009 and 2015 and other such initiatives also been considered in the NHP 2017.
- Deployment of more trained doctors and nurses would help to meet the country’s new infant mortality and maternal mortality goals, and build on the gains from higher institutional deliveries, which exceeded 80% in recent years.
- When it comes to the numbers, NHP 2017 has the following goals- increase life expectancy from 67.5 to 70 by 2025, reduce TFR to 2.1 at the national and sub-national levels by 2025 and reduce under-five mortality to 23 (per 1,000 live births) by 2024.
- The NHP, 2017 advocates a positive and proactive engagement with the private sector as it envisages private sector collaboration for strategic purchasing, capacity building, awareness generation, skill development programmes, developing sustainable networks for the community to strengthen mental health services, and disaster management.
- The NHP 2017 aims at increasing life expectancy to 70 years from 67.5 and reduce fertility rate to 2.1 by 2025.
- The private sector is having a playing a key role in the Indian health sector, which providing about 70% of all outpatient care and 60% of inpatient treatments which is contracting.
- The unethical commercial entities which have easy backdoor access to public funds in the form of state-backed insurance must be taken into the periphery of the law and it should be mandatory for all health institutions to be accredited, and to publish the approved cost of treatments, in order to get rid of the prevailing asymmetry of information.
- For essential medicines and free diagnostic tests, the government requires a spending increase of only 0.4% of GDP, which lies within the proposed 2.5% of the Central Government.
- Through this policy, the government has a better chance to rectify the issue of incompetent existing health mission by making a partnership with the states in order to achieve the targeted level of government spending of 2.5% of GDP by 2025, which is around 1.15 per cent up from now.
- Before implementing the new policy, the government needs to collect robust health data, but the existing data inputs which are collected from multiple sources and sample surveys are not satisfactory.
- In order to grant access and financial protection at secondary and tertiary care levels, the new policy proposes free drugs, free diagnostics and free emergency care services in all public hospitals.
Deficiencies in NHP 2017
- The NHP 2017 instead of adopting a radical change proposed in the draft policy in 2015 by the National Health Rights Act aimed at making health a right adopted an “assurance-based approach”.
- The NHP 2017 also reiterates health spending 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 31st March 2017).
- The NHP 2017 failed to make health a justiciable right in the way the Right to Education 2005 did for school education.
- The experts have doubted the feasibility in the targets set by NHP 2017, as it advocated the positive and proactive engagement with the private sector, but it avoids the task of chalking out a clear path to synergise relationship between public and private players.
Existing Issues in Healthcare Sector in India
- In India, there is a growing incidence of non-communicable diseases like diabetes and the poor finance arrangements for caring such disease makes India as a fifth of the world’s disease-burdened country.
- India’s poor performance in the health sector has tow down among the BRICS countries.
- One of most citing weaknesses area of existing health mission is the lack of competence to use higher levels of public funding for health.
- The initiative of major capacity expansion was unlikely to meet the existing policy goals while as of 2014 there were only 11.3% of registered allopathic doctors working in the public sector but the number in rural areas was abysmally low.
- As per the existing deteriorating condition of rural health centres and their services, there is a requirement of a number of health professionals to be deployed per unit of population in rural areas.
- There is a great thrust of accountability, both on the quality and cost of care is required in the health services provided by the private sector.
- As suggested by the expert group formed more than five years ago on universal health coverage of the Planning Commission- instant formation of regulatory and accreditation agencies healthcare providers at the national and state levels by wasting no time in the process.
- The health data must not be fragmented and that should be inclusive of all the private sector and other commercial entities providing health services.
However, the government has taken many initiatives in the last few decades in order to address the existing challenge lies in the health sector in India. The National Rural Health Mission was one of the flagship schemes of the government, which had the target during 12th Five Year Plan to reduce IMR to 25/1000 live births, but the IMR reduced from 42 in 2012 (Sample Registration System) to 40 in 2013 (SRS) while the target of MMR was to reduce MMR to 1/1000 live births but MMR has reduced to 167 in 2011-13 (SRS).
The government spending in the public health care system is rising year by year, but the issues like lack of capacities and human resource shortage in certain states are the major concern for the ineffectiveness of the targeted policy. In order to minimise high out-of-pocket spending, the government should put the early deadlines for public institutions to offer essential medicines and diagnostic tests free to everyone on a primary basis. The prevailing challenges in the health sector, are much more complex in nature like complexities of culture and customs, economic situations, geography, ethnicity, and political situations make it more difficult for the policy-makers. The problems faced by Indians like high incidence of communicable and non-communicable diseases, the low performance of maternal and child health indicators, and nutritional problems, particularly that of women and children, are the issues that exist in every part of the country even today apart from the burden of chronic, non-chronic diseases and other socio-economic social factors.