National Health policy

The National Health Policy- 2017 was approved by the Union Cabinet, Government of India on 16 March 2017. This is India’s third National Health policy (NHP); earlier NHPs were released in 1983 and 2002. The goal of the NHP-2017 is to ‘achieve the highest possible level of good health and well-being for all Indians through a preventive and promotive healthcare orientation in all developmental policies, and to achieve universal access to good quality health care services without anyone having to face financial hardship as a consequence.’

The NHP-2017 lays down time-bound targets for disease elimination, reduction of premature and preventable mortality, systems strengthening, improving coverage and quality of health services as well as addressing the social determinants.

Key policy thrusts include increased public spending on health up to 2.5% of GDP by 2025; focus on primary health care, prevention, promotion and mainstreaming of AYUSH systems; health-card for each family and assured comprehensive package of PHC services through health and wellness centres; strategic purchasing of secondary and tertiary services from public, not for profit and for profit health facilities.

Free drugs and diagnostics for all, tackling antimicrobial resistance, augmented health research, innovation and indigenous production of drugs and medical technology as well as use of ICT and eHealth are also envisaged.

Strengthening governance and regulatory frameworks for improving quality of care, greater strategic engagement with private sector, addressing human resource gaps, proposal for mid-level care providers, establishment of public health management cadre in all states and streamlining quality of medical education are other key policy highlights.

NHP-2017 is well aligned to the Sustainable Development Goal agenda with an overarching aim to progressively achieve Universal Health Coverage.