Key targets of National health policy 2017 assuring health services for all

Previous health policy was endorsed in 2002 and aimed to achieve an acceptable standard of good health by providing cost-effective healthcare among the general population and planned to increase the health sector expenditure to 6% of gross domestic product (GDP). National Health Policy (NHP) 2002 also targeted to control the major diseases such as Polio, TB, malaria, and HIV. Though policy succeeded in eliminating polio but failed to eradicate persisting challenges such as inadequate health services, low public expenditure on healthcare system leading people to poverty in order to avail health services.

Central government announces NHP 2017 with an assurance of delivering quality healthcare services to everyone with financial protection. On 15 March 2017, union cabinet chaired by the prime minister of India established and approved the NHP 2017. The objective of the policy is to deliver high-quality healthcare services to everyone by strengthening the primary healthcare centers. It seeks to promote the quality of care, additional focus on emerging diseases and investment in promotive and preventive healthcare.

It promises to increase the public health expenditure to 2.5% of GDP in a time-bound manner. It assures to provide higher comprehensive primary healthcare packages for geriatric health care, palliative care, and rehabilitative care services. Policy targets to increase the life expectancy at birth from 67.5% to 70% by 2025 and to reduce the neonatal mortality rate to 28 by 2019. In 1951, life expectancy was 36.7 years and in 1981 it was 54, in 2000 it was 64.6.

The policy is purely patient-oriented and intends to provide financial protection at secondary and tertiary care levels offering free drugs, diagnostics, and emergency care services in all public hospitals. The policy also propounds a positive and proactive collaboration with the private sectors for filling the gap in the healthcare system. It envisages private sector collaboration for strategic purchasing, capacity building, skill development programs, awareness generation, developing sustainable networks for the community to strengthen mental health services, and disaster management. It also envisages integration of AYUSH systems covering cross referrals, collocations and integrative practices across systems of medicines.

Primary intention of the policy is to strengthen and prioritize the government roles in improving the health systems in all possible dimensions, where role includes investment in health, organization, and financing of health care services, prevention of diseases and promotion of good health activities, access to advanced technologies, developing human resources, and encouraging medical pluralism. The policy supports progressive incremental assurances based approach intending to achieve universal access to good quality healthcare services without facing financial hardship.

-Madhusudan M R

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