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National Health Policy 2015 Draft Released
Jan 08, 2015

Union government made public the draft National Health Policy-2015. The policy is a first step in achieving universal health coverage by advocating health as a fundamental right, whose denial will be justiciable. It makes a strong case for moving towards universal access to affordable health-care services.

The draft National Health Policy,-2015 has proposed a target of raising public health expenditure to 2.5 percent from the present 1.2 percent of GDP. It also notes that 40 percent of this would need to come from central expenditure.

The draft policy also suggests making health a fundamental right similar to education and denial of the same could be punishable. The Centre shall enact, after due discussion and on the request of three or more states a National Health Rights Act, which will ensure health as a fundamental right, whose denial will be justiciable.

The new policy is being introduced almost 13 years after the last health policy was drafted. As per the draft document, government plans to rely mostly on general taxation for financing health care expenditure. It said, with the projection of a promising economic growth, the fiscal capacity to provide this level of financing should become available.

The government is also keen to explore the creation of a health cess on the lines of education cess for raising money needed to fund the expenditure it would entail. The draft policy states, other than general taxation, this cess could mobilize contributions from specific commodity taxes, such as the taxes on tobacco and alcohol, from specific industries and innovative forms of resource mobilization.

While there is an intent to increase spend on health care, the draft policy also stresses on the role of private sector. While the public sector is to focus on preventive and secondary care services, the document recommends contracting out services like ambulatory care, imaging and diagnostics, tertiary care down to non-medical services such as catering and laundry to the private sector.

The draft document highlights the urgent need to improve the performance of health systems, with focus on improving maternal mortality rate, controlling infectious diseases, tackling the growing burden of non-communicable diseases and bringing down medical expenses among other things. Maternal mortality currently accounts for 0.55 percent of all deaths and 4 percent of all female deaths in the 15 to 49 year age group.

The policy statement also assures universal access to free drugs and diagnostics in government-run hospitals. However, it proposes to pose public health system as pre-paid services instead of social service.


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