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Free Drugs, Diagnostics & More – National Health Policy Aims to Make Healthcare Affordable for All

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With the aim of achieving universal health coverage and delivering affordable health care for everyone, the government has approved National Health Policy 2017.

The is the first time a National Health Policy has been formulated since 2002.

JP Nadda briefing the media on National Health Policy 2017. Source: PIB

To enable its aim of inclusive and affordable healthcare, the policy has proposed free drugs, free diagnostics and free emergency care services in all public hospitals. Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare JP Nadda said that the new policy is patient-centric and quality-driven.

“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,” he says. “It 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”.

NHP 2017 has proposed raising public health expenditure to 2.5% of the GDP and widening the scope of primary health care packages available through health and wellness centres. A comprehensive primary health care package would include geriatric health care, palliative care and rehabilitative services. The policy advocates allocating upto two-thirds or more of resources to primary care, followed by secondary and tertiary care.

Currently, secondary services are provided at medical college hospitals—the policy aspires to make these services available at district level.


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It also recommends incorporation of digital tools for healthcare systems, health programmes in school curriculum, better access to AYUSH remedies through co-location in public facilities, boosting the practice of yoga. Under a ‘giving back to society’ initiative, it also hopes to encourage voluntary service in rural and under-served areas by healthcare professionals.

The National Health Policy was drafted by the government and placed in public domain on December 2014. Based on suggestions and feedback, the document was improved and endorsed by the Central Council for Health & Family Welfare in February 2016.

With specific quantitative goals, the policy seeks to strengthen the health, surveillance system and establish registries for diseases of public health importance by 2020.

Featured image: Wikimedia

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