NATHEALTH unveils ‘National Health Policy’ to encourage public, private spending

New Delhi [India], Mar. 21 : The Healthcare Federation of India (NATHEALTH) on Tuesday said that the National Health Policy (NHP) 2017, unveiled by the government clearly indicates that it has incorporated the recommendations of the apex healthcare sector body in terms of public spending, expanding of primary healthcare, private sector engagement digital health among others.

"It is promising to note that the Policy seeks to reach everyone in a comprehensive integrated way to move towards wellness.

It aims at achieving universal health coverage and delivering quality health care services to all at affordable cost.

While giving suggestions at draft stage and at other occasions, we had urged the government to take the lead in bringing about key changes to enable the shift in India's healthcare system over the next decade.

A long journey forward has begun with the new policy," said, secretary general NATHEALTH, Anjan Bose. The Policy looks at problems and solutions holistically with private sector as strategic partners. It seeks to promote quality of care; focus is on emerging diseases and investment in promotive and preventive healthcare.

The policy is patient centric and quality driven. It addresses health security and Make in India for drugs and devices. "All the policy measures are perfectly aligned with NATHEALTH recommendations and within a multi-segment collaborative approach, the sector will take quantum jump in terms of affordability, quality and access of healthcare services," he added.

The main objective of the National Health Policy 2017 is to achieve the highest possible level of good health and well-being, through a preventive and promotive health care orientation.

"Though 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, however, it advocates a positive and proactive engagement with the private sector for critical gap filling towards achieving national goals," Bose further said.

"NATHEALTH has geared up to meet the requirements of the sector as the policy also 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.

The policy also advocates financial and non-financial incentives for encouraging the private sector participation," the Secretary General said.

The policy proposes raising public health expenditure to 2.5 percent of the GDP in a time bound manner.

NATHEALTH had recommended that the government needs to increase public spending on healthcare from 1.3 percent in 2015 to three perent of GDP by 2025.

The policy indicates that in terms of public spending the government is moving in right direction. It is also very promising to note that the government focuses on digital interventions for the nation's health, better regulatory mechanism, quality control and assurance based approach in patient care, NATHEALTH said.

According to NATHEALTH, formation of National Digital Health Authority would go long way to regulate, develop and deploy digital health.

NATHEALTH's partnership with NASSCOM has paved the way for wider usage of digital solutions in the healthcare sector.

Amongst a few key recommendations of the NATHEALTH to the Government includes the following: . Ensure that the government assigns national priority to the healthcare agenda, commits to spending more on public health and defines a holistic framework for an India-centric health system.

The government must also set clear health priorities, clarify roles and establish enabling incentives and regulations for stakeholders.

. Enable a paradigm shift to healthy living, with a focus on prevention and primary care through greater public spending on prevention, individual incentives for healthy living and broader engagement of multiple stakeholders (For example, technology and food and beverage companies, media, schools and others).

. Scale up and expand current programmes to control NCDs-such as mental illness, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer-with care offerings that integrate screening, prevention, treatment and follow-up, enabled by partnerships-both private-private and public-private, and across the delivery, insurance, technology and pharmaceutical sectors of the healthcare industry.

. Drive insurance adoption and reduce out-of-pocket expenses by rolling out a universal healthcare-coverage scheme for essential care.

Provide government support for disadvantaged populations, such as the elderly and low-income deciles. . Institutionalize standards for the minimum quality of delivery across products and services, and initiate tracking of outcomes.

Use health-technology-assessment (HTA) tools to determine access to innovation. . Use technology and IT in healthcare to overcome access barriers in remote areas and engage patients. Focus investments on India-specific solutions. . Expand the supply of healthcare talent in critical roles, rejuvenate AYUSH (ayurveda, yoga and naturopathy, unani, siddha and homeopathy) and encourage private investment in education.

Improve the talent quality using a clear roadmap for governance and continuing medical education (CME) for professionals.

. Give an impetus to local manufacturing. Transform India into an export hub for medical products and equipment and into an R (and) D hub for tropical diseases.

. Apportion a greater share of public spending on prevention, including mass screenings, and on primary care coverage.

. Pilot and scale up universal-coverage models to guarantee essential care. Create an enabling ecosystem that provides incentives for private investment in delivery infrastructure, medical education, R (and) D and domestic manufacturing.

Source: ANI