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Union Cabinet approves National Health Policy

LiveMint logoLiveMint 15-03-2017 PTI

New Delhi: The government on Wednesday approved the National Health Policy which proposes to provide “assured health services to all” in the country.

The government officials said the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave its nod to the policy which has been pending for the last two years. Union Minister J.P. Nadda is likely to make a suo moto statement in the Parliament on Thursday elaborating on the salient features of the Policy.

Health ministry officials said that in a major policy shift, the policy increases the gambit of sectors covered in the Primary Health Centre (PHC) level and envisages a comprehensive approach.

“For example, till now, PHCs were only for immunisation, anti-natal check ups and others. But what is a major policy shift is that now it will also include screening non-communicable diseases and a whole lot of other aspects,” a senior official said.

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The official said that under the new policy, there will also be a bigger focus on upgradation of district hospitals while for the first time, there will be an implementation framework in place. A final decision on the policy had been deferred earlier after it was included in the agenda of the Union Cabinet twice before.

The proposed National Health Policy, which has been pending for the past two years, aims to provide assured health services to people as an “entitlement”. The Cabinet note which had been given earlier, however, had not talked about making health a “fundamental right” as it will have “legal consequences” but proposed assured health services.

The draft also addressed the issues of universal health coverage, reducing maternal and infant mortality rate, as well as making drugs and diagnostics available free at least in the public healthcare system of the country. It suggests the Centre must amend laws to align them with the current healthcare scenario.

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