Given the rapid changes in the healthcare sector and to meet the current challenges, the government on Wednesday placed the draft of National Health Policy, 2015, for public consultation.
The new policy is being introduced almost 13 years after the last health policy was drafted.
"The new policy will try and address the rapidly changing demands of society in transition. A society that is facing newer health challenges in the form of diseases, lack of infrastructure etc.. A new health policy was the need of the hour," said a senior health ministry official.
The Policy addresses 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, for instance, now accounts for 0.55% of all deaths and 4% of all female deaths in the 15 to 49 year age group. This is still 46,500 maternal deaths too many, and demands that the commitments to further reduction must not flag.
There are many infectious diseases which the system has failed to respond to – either in terms of prevention or access to treatment. Then there is a growing burden of non-communicable disease.
The second important change in context is the emergence of a robust health care industry growing at 15% compound annual growth rate (CAGR). This represents twice the rate of growth in all services and thrice the national economic growth rate.
Thirdly, incidence of catastrophic expenditure due to health care costs is growing and is now being estimated to be one of the major contributors to poverty. The drain on family incomes due to health care costs can neutralize the gains of income increases and every Government scheme aimed to reduce poverty.
The fourth and final change in context is that economic growth has increased the fiscal capacity available. Therefore, the country needs a new health policy that is responsive to these contextual changes.
“Other than these objective factors, the political will to ensure 4 universal access to affordable healthcare services in an assured mode – the promise of Health Assurance – is an important catalyst for the framing of a New Health Policy,” reads the draft.
The ministry of health and family welfare that has placed the draft at http:// www.mohfw.nic.in, will accept the views till the end of February.