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A road map for health – OPINION – The Hindu

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/a-road-map-for-health/article17524487.ece

    • Affordable, quality health care for all requires more human resources and cost control
    • The National Health Policy 2017, which the Centre announced this week after a nudge from the Supreme Court last year, faces the challenging task of ensuring affordable, quality medical care to every citizen
    • With a fifth of the world’s disease burden, a growing incidence of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, and poor financial arrangements to pay for care, India brings up the rear among the BRICS countries in health sector performance.
    • the policy now offers an opportunity to systematically rectify well-known deficiencies through a stronger National Health Mission
    • Among the most glaring lacunae is the lack of capacity to use higher levels of public funding for health
    • Rectifying this in partnership with the States is crucial if the Central government is to make the best use of the targeted government spending of 2.5% of GDP by 2025, up from 1.15% now.
    • Although a major capacity expansion to produce MBBS graduates took place between 2009 and 2015, and more initiatives were announced later, this is unlikely to meet policy goals since only 11.3% of registered allopathic doctors were working in the public sector as of 2014, and even among these, the number in rural areas was abysmally low.

 

  • More health professionals need to be deployed for primary care in rural areas

 

  • Contracting of health services from the private sector may be inevitable in the short term, given that about 70% of all outpatient care and 60% of inpatient treatments are provided by it.
  • But this requires accountability, both on the quality and cost of care
  • No more time should be lost in forming regulatory and accreditation agencies for health care providers at the national and State levels as suggested by the expert group on universal health coverage of the Planning Commission more than five years ago.
  • It should also be mandatory for all health institutions to be accredited, and to publish the approved cost of treatments, in order to remove the prevailing asymmetry of information.
  • . To reduce high out-of-pocket spending, early deadlines should be set for public institutions to offer essential medicines and diagnostic tests free to everyone
  • This was estimated in 2011 to require a spending increase of only 0.4% of GDP, which is within the 2.5% that the Centre is talking about.