"Revisiting Healthcare Policy"

Despite numerous programmes run by the government and private sector players, the health experts feel that the implementation has not been upto the mark. BioSpectrum tries to decipher complexities and possible solutions


Dr Montek Singh Alhuwalia, chairman, Planning Commision; Dr Prathap Reddy, chairman, Apollo Hospitals; Mr Lov Verma, health secretary; Dr Srinath Reddy, president, PHFI on the sidelines of an event to mark the launch of Healthcare Alliance that is being spearheaded by Apollo along with the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) and network of other stakeholders.

The common objectives behind all types of life sciences research are to ensure the health of an individual. Be it the pharmaceuticals, medical technology, biotechnology, agriculture or any other field, the motto is to develop affordable quality product that benefits the people at community at large. Therefore, to ensure the best outcome from the public research, we need some well planned accurate policy decisions. Similarly the awareness and prevention programmes too have to be packaged in a way so that there is broader outreach. However, there is a big question mark over the ability to so do in a huge complex populous country like India. The implementation here is not just linked to the availability of funds or resources but the state-centre relationships and programme overlaps.

Where do we stand?

Experts agree that the access to healthcare facilities in India has somewhat not been upto the mark so far. This belief is fully backed by the reports like FICCI HEAL 2013 which mentions that India constitutes 17% of world population, 20% of global disease burden but spends only 1% of global healthcare expenditure. The out of pocket expenditure on healthcare is about 65% and only 10% of Indian population receives healthcare subsidies.

According to Mr Lov Verma, secretary of health, ministry of health and family welfare, "The 29.8% of population is below the poverty line, 43% don't have access to healthcare facilities amd 49% have no drainage facility. The healthcare percentage to the overall GDP in Feb, 2014 stood at 3.7 % and there has been increase in the healthcare spending from 22% in 2005 to 21% in 2011."

The planning commission chairman, Dr Montek Singh Ahluwalia is of the opinion that curative healthcare is a responsibility. "Unless you cross the road, you don't feel the stones. As we evolve our health policy, we have to consider all the options. Next ten years have to be seen as delivery of curative healthcare services that will lead to visibility." Putting more onus of implementation on the states, he says, "Actual management of health is a state responsibility and they have to be more proactive. Health ministry received so many proposals from the states. If there are more imaginative ways of doing it, those are welcome."


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