After 15 long years after the last health policy was approved, the Union Cabinet has approved the National Health Policy 2017. Prime Minister Narendra Modi called it a “historic moment…to create a healthy India where everyone has access to quality healthcare”. The policy acknowledges that much has changed since the previous health policy including the drop in maternal and child mortality rates and the growing burden because of noncommunicable diseases and some infectious diseases. According to the government document released, the policy aims to strengthen India’s healthcare system in the face of social, economic and technological changes.

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Salient Features of the Policy

The National Healthy Policy 2017 wants to achieve the “highest possible level of health and well-being for all at all ages” through a policy system that encapsulates both preventative and promotive methods without placing anyone under financial constraints.

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For example, one of its aims are to not only ensure the availability of two beds per 1,000 population but also to ensure they are available within the golden hour – that is within the first hour after an injury and when the victim is most need of emergency treatment.

Another element that the policy proposes is access to free drugs and services for reproductive, maternal and child health, especially with pertinent regard to both communicable and non-communicable diseases that are most common.

These are some targets that the policy aims to achieve

1. Increase life expectancy at birth from 67.5 to 70 by 2025.

2. Reduce premature mortality from cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes or chronic respiratory diseases by 25% by 2025.

3. Increase use of public health facilities by 50% from current levels by 2025.

4. Achieve global target for HIV/AIDS by 2020, which includes terms such as 90% of all people living with HIV know their status, 90% of all people living with HIV received sustained antiretroviral therapy, and the viral in 90% of those receiving antiretroviral therapy is suppressed.

5. Reduce infant mortality rate to 28 by 2019.

6. By 2020, reduce current use of tobacco by 15%, and 30% by 2025.

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7. A 40% reduction in the stunting of children under-five by 2025.

8. Everyone has access to safe water and sanitation by 2020.

9. To ensure that by 2025, more than 90% of newborns are immunised by the time they turn one.

10. Meet more than 90% of family planning needs by 2025.

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Lastly, the policy admits that “a policy is only as good as its implementation”. In light of this statement, it says that the policy aims to implement a framework, complete with deliverables and milestones, which will deliver on all its commitments.

The policy as such looks very good and have set very loft goals to itself . Lets hope the Govt will also have the vigour to follow up on the execution and will make sure that at least some of the benefits that are thought of reaches the common people.

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