All you need to know about the National Health Policy

The Union Cabinet meeting, presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on March 15, approved the National Health Policy, 2017 (NHP, 2017). The policy seeks to reach everyone in a comprehensive, integrated way to move towards wellness. The objective of this policy is to achieve universal health coverage by delivering quality healthcare services to people at an affordable cost.

The broad principles of the National Health Policy 2017 policy are centered on professionalism, integrity and ethics, equity, affordability, universality, patient-centered and quality of care, accountability and pluralism.

Here are the details of the new National Health Policy:

  • It seeks to achieve the highest possible level of good health and well-being, through a preventive and promotive healthcare orientation in all developmental policies, and to achieve universal access to good quality healthcare services without anyone having to face financial hardship as a consequence.
  • The policy proposes free drugs, free diagnostics and free emergency care services in all public hospitals.
  • It envisages strategic purchase of secondary and tertiary care services as a short term measure to supplement and fill critical gaps in the health system.
  • It recommends prioritizing the role of the Government in shaping health systems in all its dimensions. The roadmap of this new policy is predicated on public spending and provisioning of a public healthcare system that is comprehensive, integrated and accessible to all.
  • It advocates a positive and proactive engagement with the private sector for critical gap filling towards achieving national goals.
  • It envisages private sector collaboration for strategic purchasing, capacity building, skill development programmes, awareness generation, developing sustainable networks for community to strengthen mental health services, and disaster management.
  • It proposes raising public health expenditure to 2.5% of the GDP in a time bound manner.
  • This policy denotes important change from very selective to comprehensive primary health care package which includes geriatric health care, palliative care and rehabilitative care services.
  • It aspires to provide at the district level most of the secondary care which is currently provided at a medical college hospital.
  • It seeks to strengthen the health, surveillance system and establish registries for diseases of public health importance, by 2020. It also seeks to align other policies for medical devices and equipment with public health goals.
  • It affirms commitment to pre-emptive care (aimed at pre-empting the occurrence of diseases) to achieve optimum levels of child and adolescent health.
  • It envisages school health programmes as a major focus area as also health and hygiene being made a part of the school curriculum.
  • Yoga would also be introduced much more widely in school and work places as part of promotion of good health.
  • The policy supports voluntary service in rural and under-served areas on pro-bono basis by recognized healthcare professionals under a ‘giving back to society’ initiative.