Editorial Simplified | 18th March 2017

Editorial Simplified : 18th Day of March 2017

This Series of posts covers the essential Editorial from prominent newspapers. The Editorial from the newspapers are compiled by the Subject Teachers form the Academy and provided in notes format so that the aspirants does not waste their precious time in sifting through the newspapers. 

The Hindu / The Indian Express

Editorial : National Health Policy 2017: A roadmap for health / Weak Medicine

Context

A new National Health Policy draft approved by the Cabinet

Important points

  • Disease burden: With a fifth of the world’s disease burden, growing incidence of non-communicable diseases, poor financial arrangements to pay for care, India fares worst among BRICS in terms of health indicators. 
  • Personnel: Only 11.3% of registered allopathic professionals were working in the public sector as of 2014, and even lesser in rural areas. 
  • Private care: 70% of all out-patients and 60% of all in-patients access private healthcare facilities. In lights of this, we need adequate standards and accountability of cost as well as quality if healthcare in private institutions. 
  • Cost: Essentials medicines and diagnostic tests should be made free as add-on as possible. In 2011, it was estimated that this requires a spending increase of 0.4 percent of GDP and this is well within the increase to 2.5 percent of GDP as proposed by the policy.
  • Accreditation: We must also quickly establish accreditation and regulatory agencies for all healthcare providers at the national and state level.

Analysis

  • The new policy was eagerly waited because it was coming after a gap of 15 years and also because the draft circulated by the Health Ministry in 2015 was quite promising.
  • However, the version that has been approved by the Cabinet has not lived to the expectations, as follows
  • It aims to eliminate kala-azar and filariasis by the end of 2017, leprosy by 2018 and measles by 2020. These were also part of the Finance Minister’s budget speech so there’s nothing new about them.
  • In terms of public expenditure on healthcare, India’s current expenditure is 1.15 percent as compared to the WHO’s recommendation of 5 percent. The new policy draft had promised to raise it to 2.5 percent by the end of 2017 but the one approved by thr cabinet pushed the deadline back to 2025.
  • The policy has let down by not acting on a National Health Rights Act – talking of an “assurance-based approach” rather than a rights-based approach. 
  • In terms of healthcare personnel, government has failed to expand their numbers, or train them. The new policy fails to address the lack of financial support that was ascribed as its cause. Adequate healthcare human resources can lead to obtaining infant mortality and maternal mortality rates 
  • It mandates the creation of a National Healthcare Standards Organization but with health being a state subject, there are doubts over it’s effectiveness.

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