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

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Slippery Slope for Public Health Services

The draft national health policy suggests that public health services should be held accountable according to commercial principles, which would have a deleterious impact on public health.

From the point of view of common people, the background to the National Health Policy 2015, Draft (hereafter draft NHP) could not have been very inspiring. Instead of the long-awaited jump in the healthcare budget, the 2014–15 budget showed hardly any rise in allocation for health, making a mockery of its declaration of a “Health Assurance Mission.” In December 2014 the central government reportedly cut Rs 7,000 crore from an already low budget due to fiscal pressure. Further, if we consider the views of Arvind Panagariya, vice-chairman of the newly formed Niti Aayog, it has to be assumed that the NHP will be cast in a full-blown neo-liberal framework. Panagariya has argued for cash transfer to the poor instead of providing public health services:

Once the poor have been provided the financial resources necessary to pay for their health care expenditures, there does not remain a case for additionally free provision of the service by the government....We estimate that… excluding administrative costs, the government can provide at least a modest health care cover for the bottom half of the population for just three-quarters of a percent of the GDP (Panagariya et al 2014 cited by Kurian 2014).

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