Policy Matter

IMA national head trashes Centre’s draft health policy

The Union government’s draft health policy lacks clear directions, said neurosurgeon A Marthanda Pillai, national president of the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

Thirteen years after the last national health policy, the C has brought out a draft new national health policy, which is in the public domain for discussions.

Drawing attention to the American model of insurance-driven healthcare provisioning, Pillai said: “Providing health insurance to the poor is not going to positively impact their lives. However, it will allow the insurance companies to pocket almost half the amount dedicated to the cause.” He added that the government should increase the public expenditure on health which is currently a meager 1.2 per cent of the GDP at present.

While stating that various health programmes and policies in the past have not been able to achieve the desired results, Pillai pointed that ‘India’s level of public spending on health was one of the lowest in the world’.

“The low public spending on health has led to poor health status in the country. The Union government should ensure that more focus is given to strengthen primary, secondary and tertiary-care services,” Pillai said, adding that the policy seems to be giving undue importance to corporate sector forgetting the fact that a majority of healthcare in the country is still delivered by small-scale institutions.

“Government policy should aim to sustain and promote these small and medium-scale institutions so that affordability and accessibility is not affected,” Pillai said.

Government should consciously discourage the corporate culture in healthcare since it would push up the cost of treatment and affect accessibility since all the corporate hospitals are city centered, he added.

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