Free Press Journal

National Health Policy draft anti-people, promotes privatisation



Kolkata: Slamming the draft of the National Health Policy 2015 as “anti-people”, a national socio-medical voluntary organisation accused the central government of promoting “privatisation, commercialisation and commodification” of health in India. Representatives of the Medical Service Centre termed the draft of the policy put up by the health and family welfare ministry as one “assisting the private industry to sustain and thrive”.

According to the ministry, however, the policy is designed to provide clarity on the most critical health care issues and immediate policy priorities. “By giving extraordinary weightage on the private health care sector for ensuring secondary and tertiary care, the government is assisting private industry to sustain and thrive.”

“In the first and second National Health Policies of 1983 and 2002, we observed invitation and encouragement to private sector. Now, with this draft policy, the full circle of privatisation, commercialisation and commodification of health will be complete,” Bijnan Kumar Bera, general secretary of the organisation said at a media meet here.

Bera said the Centre has declared to grant a maximum allocation of a paltry 2.5 percent of the GDP on the health sector as against the five percent that was laid down in the WHO and UN guidelines for developing countries.

“The government has proposed introducing mandatory health entitlement cards for getting cashless health services from primary and higher care centres but has not explained why it is required.”

“In the name of Universal Health Coverage, the government has contemplated to mobilise reimbursement/fund through insurance policies. As if insurance of health is equal to right of health of people, which is not the case at all,” he said.

He said the present spending of the government on the health sector is 1.2 percent. In the draft, the government proposes to create a health cess to raise funds to finance health care.

Instead of increasing necessary infrastructure, it has envisaged to depend on private or quasi government hospitals or agencies for fulfilment of people’s needs. Health expenditure in budget should get adequate importance, Bera added.

Highlighting a “disconnect” between the union budget provisions and the policy draft, Bera and other medical practitioners observed increase in number of private/government medical and paramedical institutions “will not help resolve deficiency situation unless a realistic approach is taken”.

On the Centre’s stress on integrating AYUSH (the department of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy) with allopathic medicine, Bera said “proper evaluation, research, utilisation and scientific integration” of AYUSH is needed.

“But unscientific overemphasis on traditions and traditional practices will not help achievement of scientific health, rather encourage superstitious and outdated thoughts and beliefs,” he said.