The national health policy, cleared by the Centre few years back, lays accent on preventive healthcare and seeks to engage the private sector as a strategic partner to make services affordable for all citizens with provision of free essential drugs and diagnostic facilities. While the policy lays a framework for screening and treatment of non-communicable diseases like cancer and diabetes, it also talks about integrating AYUSH system in school education and moving towards wellness care through yoga. The policy also envisages extensive deployment of digital tools for improving efficiency and outcomes. The policy, which will provide free essential medicines and “assured” health services to all, aims to reduce out of pocket expenditure, Health Minister JP Nadda had said at that time and asserted that it would “empower” patients by making healthcare affordable. This policy is patient-centric, Nadda had said at the time of launch of the new health policy. Only time will tell the efficacy of it as till date no government whether in the states or in centre has ever came out with a health policy which was detrimental for people. But the irony is that healthcare in India has been relegated to the far down in the priority list by the subsequent governments resultant effect this crucial sector remained as no-body’s baby. The new policy, unlike the previous one, stresses on “preventive and promotive” healthcare and also has a “target oriented” commitment for elimination of diseases for which an implementation framework has been envisaged. The policy also envisages creation of National Health Care Standards Organisation which will formulate guidelines and protocols for healthcare while there is a provision of establishing a separate empowered tribunal for speedy resolution of disputes and complaints. The policy suggests distribution of family health cards, which can be connected to the public health care facility so that a patient’s entire medical history can be digitally accessed. The vision is definitely praiseworthy but basic amenities like clean food, water and air remains still far from reachable limit still.
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