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The National Health Policy, launched in the year 1983, is a government undertaking that aims at offering comprehensive healthcare services in India. However, it has adapted itself to the rapidly changing demands and priorities of the health scenario in the country. Hence, its first Five-Year Plan widely differs from the most recent version of the policy introduced on 15th March, 2017. The National Health Policy 2017 is endorsed by the Central Council for Health & Family Welfare.
The National Health Policy had remained unrevised since 2002, when the changes were undertaken by the then Prime Minister of India, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The prime objective of National Health Policy 2017 is to control the inequalities in healthcare services and overcome the impending hurdles in the health sector.
In a first-of-its-kind initiative towards revising the National Health Policy provisions, the new regulations were formulated through consultations, observations and feedback from notable personalities in the healthcare field. State governments and stakeholders were closely involved in the decision-making and fine-tuning of the draft. Besides, the Central Government also incorporated innumerable suggestions that it received for the formulation of the National Health Policy 2017 throughout the country.
There are certain prominent changes that the Indian healthcare sector has undergone in the last few decades.
The National Health Policy 2017 is formulated in alignment with the above factors and aims to address these concerns
The primary goal of National Health Policy 2017 is to achieve the highest possible level of health and wellbeing for citizens of India across ages. Not just that, it is an initiative to ensure that healthcare services are accessible to all at affordable costs, without compromising on its quality. It focuses on a preventive and promotive healthcare orientation in all developmental policies, and universal access to good quality healthcare services without anyone having to face financial hardships as a consequence. This would be achieved through increasing access, improving quality and lowering the cost of healthcare delivery.
The policy recognizes the pivotal importance of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). An indicative list of time bound quantitative goals aligned to ongoing national efforts as well as the global strategic directions is detailed at the end of this section.
Professionalism, Integrity and Ethics: The health policy commits itself to the highest professional standards, integrity and ethics to be maintained in the entire system of healthcare delivery in the country, supported by a credible, transparent and responsible regulatory environment.
Equity: Reducing inequity would mean affirmative action to reach the poorest. It would mean minimizing disparity on account of gender, poverty, caste, disability, other forms of social exclusion and geographical barriers. It would imply greater investments and financial protection for the poor who suffer the largest burden of diseases.
Affordability: As costs of care increases, affordability, as distinct from equity, requires emphasis. Catastrophic household health care expenditures defined as health expenditure exceeding 10% of its total monthly consumption expenditure or 40% of its monthly non-food consumption expenditure, are unacceptable.
Universality: Prevention of exclusions on social, economic or on grounds of current health status. In this backdrop, systems and services are envisaged to be designed to cater to the entire population- including special groups.
Patient Centered & Quality of Care: Gender sensitive, effective, safe, and convenient healthcare services to be provided with dignity and confidentiality. There is need to evolve and disseminate standards and guidelines for all levels of facilities and a system to ensure that the quality of healthcare is not compromised.
Accountability: Financial and performance accountability, transparency in decision making, and elimination of corruption in healthcare systems, both in public and private.
Inclusive Partnerships: A multi-stakeholder approach with partnership and participation of all non-health ministries and communities. This approach would include partnerships with academic institutions, not for profit agencies, and healthcare industry as well.
Pluralism: Access to AYUSH care providers based on documented and validated local, home and community based practices. These systems would also have Government support in research and supervision to develop and enrich their contribution to meeting the national health goals and objectives through integrative practices.
Decentralization: Decentralization of decision-making to a level as is consistent with practical considerations and institutional capacity. It seeks to promote community participation in health planning processes simultaneously.
Dynamism and Adaptiveness: Constantly improving dynamic organization of healthcare based on new knowledge and learning from the communities - national and international knowledge partners.
The policy envisages as its goal the attainment of the highest possible level of health and well-being for all at all ages, through a preventive and promotive health care orientation in all developmental policies, and universal access to good quality health care services without anyone having to face financial hardship as a consequence. This would be achieved through increasing access, improving quality and lowering the cost of healthcare delivery.
Improve health status through concerted policy action in all sectors and expand preventive, promotive, curative, palliative and rehabilitative services provided through the public health sector with focus on quality.
The National Health Policy has been a step towards the right direction for regulating and organizing the healthcare sector in India. Not just that, it aims at offering quality services to every citizen of India at affordable rates. Certain services are also offered free for cost to ensure that they are accessible to all, irrespective of their economic status.
The revised National Health Policy 2017 not only furthers this cause, but customizes the provisions by encouraging participation from imminent personalities in the healthcare and medical field. It incorporates the necessary changes in the policy to overcome the challenges of the healthcare sector in India.