The Union Cabinet has approved the National Health Policy. Health Minister JP Nadda made a suo motu statement in the Parliament to make details of the new policy public. It makes health an entitlement but not a fundamental right as the draft policy had envisaged. It stops short of a legislative backing for right to health. A Right to Health legislation in the nature of right to education would need a constitutional amendment to bring health in the concurrent list from where it currently is on the state list.
In the current policy, health services are merely “assured”. It, however, talks of imposing a health cess much like the education cess that was imposed after RTE was legislated. It talks of increasing public expenditure on health to 2.5 per cent of GDP — as demanded by experts for a long time.
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. It suggests that the Centre must amend laws to align them with the current healthcare scenario.
The policy has also assigned specific quantitative targets aimed at reduction of disease prevalence/ incidence under three broad components viz.
Industry stalwarts share their opinion on National Health Policy
We congratulate the Union Cabinet for approving the National Health Policy. This is a visionary step towards assuring the quality of life and quality of health services to every citizen of India. Strengthening the primary care system, health education, preventive interventions along with ease of access to quality health facilities will help India tide over the communicable and non-communicable disease burden. Government’s focussed initiatives have led to significant progress in containing communicable diseases, reducing infant and maternal mortality, and tremendous progress across vital health parameters.
However, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) need a concerted and all-encompassing effort and the government has once again taken a laudable step to expand preventive and curative services in NCDs. The Government’s inclusion to target NCDs at the primary care level and to partner with like-minded institutions across the health ecosystem will act as a force multiplier to fight this scourge.
– Dr Prathap C Reddy, Founder Chairman, Apollo Hospitals Group
The revision in the National Health Policy is a landmark event as this has been revised in India after 14 years. The policy highlights the increased spend in healthcare which will go up to 2.5 per cent of GDP, hopefully in the next five to 10 years. As a cancer care hospital, the policies introduced for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are of prime importance to us. According to the World Health Organization, an Indian today has over twice the odds of dying of a non-communicable disease than a communicable disease. As the cost involved in care and equipment of NCDs is extremely high, hence increasing spend in communicable diseases will help reach out to a large populations in India.
The policy also recognises that there are certain types of cancers which can be addressed early through screenings. The proposition to train ASHA workers across the country for oral, breast and cervical cancer treatment is a great initiative as it will help early detection and reduce mortality rate even in the lower strata of the society. As a lot of patients rely on treatment from private institutions, managing costs for generic drugs and medical devices will be hugely beneficial. Along with this, we need to ensure that the cost of diagnostics and medical equipment is also controlled. The ‘Make in India’ thrust in the healthcare segment will help in initiating technology development, clinical trials, research and innovation so that India can have access to advanced medical care at the same time as the western countries. After heart and lung disease, cancer is the third largest cause of death in the country and I hope that the health policy would have a separate section to address the issues in cancer care.
– Suresh Ramu, CEO, Cytecare Hospital
National Health Policy 2017 would likely provide the long awaited thrust to Indian healthcare sector and its focus on Make in India would help in strengthening manufacturing capabilities of medical devices in India. This will help achieve the desired balance between availability of innovative, quality and affordable medical technologies and will make India a global hub for medical value travel.
– Himanshu Baid, Chairman, CII Medical Technology Division & MD, Poly Medicure
National Health Policy, announced by Health Minister Jagat Prakash Nadda, is a forward looking policy which would revive India’s healthcare system by ensuring that Indians have access to affordable and quality healthcare. This would essentially improvise the overall healthcare ecosystem in India, and help India move notches higher in SDGs.
The policy delves upon all the critical aspects governing the healthcare delivery mode. Besides, integration of this policy with ‘Make in India’ initiative especially with regard to drug discovery for meeting growing healthcare needs, could prove to be a boon for our country.
– Dr Rajiv I Modi, Chairman, CII National Committee on Pharma, & CMD, Cadila Pharmaceuticals
CII welcomes the National Health Policy which will prove to be the game changer in access to healthcare for all. With the shift to wellness and prevention from sick care, and the increase in public health expenditure to 2.5 per cent of the GDP, the National Health Policy 2017 has its heart in the right place. CII welcomes the National Health Policy, it shows the commitment of the government to put health of its citizens first.
Specific focus on reducing specific disease burden, improving their treatment levels provides a direction. The game changer will be the integration of AYUSH by way of promotion of cross referrals, co-location and integration in practices.
The focus on ‘Make in India’ on devices and drugs was expected and along with it, we welcome the emphasis on improving the regulatory environment and ease of doing business.
The private sector is already partnering the government in this journey and has submitted draft frameworks for PPPs in several areas viz medical education, NCDs, teaching hospitals etc. The CII will offer its assistance through the Healthcare Council which has membership from all segments of the healthcare industry – medical device equipment manufacturers, pharma and biotech, health insurance, healthcare providers and Ayurveda groups.
– Dr Naresh Trehan, Chairman, CII National Healthcare Council and CMD, Medanta – the Medicity
The National Health Policy 2017 appears to be very detailed and certainly looks to address lifestyle diseases, maternal and infant mortality and certain communicable diseases. However, while the grand plan is good, the methodology to implement these measures and achieve the objectives becomes equally important. As the largest cancer care provider in the country that has played a role in creating a paradigm shift in cancer care over the last 10 years, it is important for us to know and understand how we can work with the nation to implement such preventive measures.
For example, how can we reduce the increasing obesity in the middle and upper class; in rural areas, how do we improve hygiene to wipe out cervical cancer; and how can we decrease the incidence of smoking amongst the youth? Could we perhaps implement tobacco taxation to tackle such chronic diseases and use this funding to encourage private enterprise to address issues concerning these diseases? I would like to see the government forming a committee by involving private leaders in healthcare, particularly those in cancer and cardiac care, who understand the ground level problems in the country and whose expertise will help us address the nation’s health needs in a more effective manner.
– Dr BS Ajaikumar, Chairman and CEO, Healthcare Global Enterprises
National Health Policy focusses on various aspects such as preventive healthcare, pre-screening, population stabilisation and targeting NCDs to lowering costs of medical services and medical education. The policy recognises the need to halt and reverse the growing incidence of chronic diseases. The current scenario demands us to improve the average health and wellness of the country’s population, and the policy has made inroads on that with starting to have provisions for mental healthcare. We should promote ‘Make in India’ and ‘Treat in India’ which will give the technology side of the healthcare sector a boost.
– Dr Bagasrawala, Associate Director – Medical Affairs, Saifee Hospital
This move by the Government to increase spending on healthcare is a welcome step which will positively impact the economy in the coming years. The burden of disease shall go down in the future if adequate steps are taken by the government and private players towards better accessibility to healthcare which also includes preventive healthcare. However, policies need to be designed keeping in mind that the whole of India cannot be painted with the same brush. In this country, people are plagued with problems related to under-nutrition as well as overnutrition and both have severe health complications.
The government should also consider remote healthcare incentivisation. Delivering remote healthcare needs to be more cost effective as it is of utmost importance for a large nation like India.
– Dr Shikha Sharma, Founder, Dr Shikha’s NutriHealth
The approval of the National Health Policy, 2017 by the Cabinet is a favourable step towards promoting quality healthcare services in the country. Given that most of the existing health policies in our country are directed towards the treatment and management of diseases, this is a welcome shift wherein the primary focus would be on wellness as opposed to sick- care, with thrust on prevention and health promotion. It will help in strengthening the public health system by reducing the burden of disease and eventually eradicating these.
The provision to raise health spends to 2.5 per cent of GDP is especially designed to implement this in the remotest part of the country, thus entailing accessibility to healthcare for all. Mental health has been given due importance as the policy advocates private sector collaboration for achieving national goals which includes capacity building, skill development programmes, awareness generation, developing sustainable networks and mental health services. Also, digital health is set to get a major boost with the proposed establishment of National Digital Health Authority (NDHA). The Government’s efforts towards delivering efficient healthcare are highly appreciable.
– Jyotsna Pattabiraman, Founder and CEO, GrowFit