Health Policy to hike health spending to 2.5% of GDP

Health Policy to hike health spending to 2.5% of GDP

Setting ambitious targets, the government today unveiled the National Health Policy which entails raising of public expenditure to 2.

Setting ambitious targets, the government today unveiled the National Health Policy which entails raising of public expenditure to 2.5 per cent of GDP from the current level of around 1.5 per cent (rpt) 1.5 per cent and introducing yoga much more widely in schools and work places.

The Policy, which was cleared by the Cabinet yesterday, also envisions increasing life expectancy to 70 years from 67.5 years and proposes free diagnostics and drugs at all public hospitals.

It also seeks to empower patients by setting up tribunals where an aggrieved person can seek redressal of grievances over treatment, Health Minister J P Nadda said while giving an overview of the policy in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.

The policy aims at reaching health care in an assured manner to all, particularly the under-served and underprivileged, he said.

Nadda said the policy aims at reducing Under-Five Mortality to 23 by 2025 and Maternal Mortality Rate to 100 by 2020. It targets at reducing infant mortality rate to 28 by 2019 and neo-natal mortality to 16 and still-birth rate to single digit by 2025.

The policy seeks to move health care away from "sick care to wellness", with thrust on prevention and health promotion, the minister said.

The policy aims at attaining the highest possible level of health and well-being for all ages through a preventive and promotive health care and universal access to quality health services without anyone having to face financial hardship as a consequence, he said. This would be achieved by increasing access, improving quality and lowering the cost of health care delivery, Nadda said.

He said the policy also proposes reduction of fertility rate to 2.1 by 2025 and free diagnostics and drugs at all public hospitals.

Yoga would be introduced much more widely in schools and work places as part of promotion of good health, he said.

The policy also seeks to achieve and maintain elimination of leprosy by 2018, kala-azar by 2017 and lymphatic filariasis in endemic pockets by 2017.

"This policy has come after a gap of 15 years to address the current and emerging challenges necessitated by the changing socio-economic, technological and epidemiological landscape," he said.

The draft policy was placed in public domain in December, 2014 and over 5000 suggestions were received, Nadda said, adding that this was followed by consultations with state governments and other stakeholders. 

Health Ministry sources said that in a major policy shift, the policy increases the gambit of sectors covered in the Primary Health Centre (PHC) level and envisages a comprehensive approach.

"For example, till now, PHCs were only for immunisation, anti-natal check ups and others. But what is a major policy shift is that now it will also include screening non-communicable diseases and a whole lot of other aspects," a senior official said.

They said that under the new policy, there will also be a bigger focus on upgradation of district hospitals while for the first time, there will be an implementation framework in place.

The draft also addressed the issues of universal health coverage, reducing maternal and infant mortality rate, as well as making drugs and diagnostics available free at least in the public healthcare system of the country.

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