ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Long on Eloquence, Short on Detail

The draft National Health Policy 2015 needs to pay more attention to the basics of healthcare.

Over 63 million persons in India face poverty every year due to healthcare costs alone with the share of out-of-pocket (OOP) expenditure on healthcare as a proportion of total household monthly per capita expenditure being 6.9% in rural areas and 5.5% in urban areas in 2011-12. In view of this, the central government’s draft National Health Policy (NHP) 2015, which is in the public domain and open to suggestions and comments until 28 February, is particularly significant. The draft NHP intends to make health a fundamental right and therefore its denial a justiciable matter. It hopes that this will “give a push for more public health expenditure as well as for the recognition of health as a basic human right”.

Undoubtedly, this is a welcome proposal but the right to education, which was declared a fundamental right in 2009, comes immediately to mind. The parallels with healthcare are many: the quality of education in government schools and the quality of services in public hospitals and primary health centres; the insistence, as a result, of even poor parents on their children attending private schools, however badly run; the beeline to private hospitals even by poor patients; and the small and large glitches in the implementation of the law. The lesson is obvious: what looks excellent on paper becomes a different proposition when it has to be put into practice.

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