A draft health policy, which seeks to take healthcare in the State out of the purview of just the Health Department and make it literally every department’s responsibility and in turn, position health as a product of the State’s development agenda incorporating a host of allied subjects, was released here on Saturday.
The draft is the first step towards a comprehensive health policy, one which the State never had and, in fact, one which few other States in the country have.
Rajeev Sadanandan, Principal Secretary (Health), explaining the objectives of the draft policy at a seminar here, said the aim was to position good health as the product of a development agenda that incorporated social determinants of health such as water supply, nutrition, sanitation, prevention of ecological degradation, respect for citizens’ rights, and gender sensitivity.
The policy would strive to ensure availability of the required financial, technical, and human resources to meet the health needs of the State; to effectively organise provision of healthcare from primary to tertiary levels through referral networks managed by primary care providers to maximise efficiency and reduce costs; and to regulate practise in the sector to ensure quality and patient protection.
The policy, in fact, aims at crucial changes from the grassroots level, looking at ‘networked care managed by primary care groups.’
This would also have a revamp of the primary care system, with specialised training to be provided through a soon-to-be launched postgraduate course to create a cadre of qualified doctors for primary care alone.
The other major proposals in the draft policy include a unified Kerala Public Health Act, combining the existing Travancore-Cochin Public Health Act and the Madras Public Health Act and current needs; the setting up of a Public Health Cadre and Public Health Protection Agency; strategies to reduce maternal and infant mortality through a framework developed with support of the Kerala Federation of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and the National Institute of Clinical Excellence, United Kingdom; putting in place a referral protocol along with strengthening of cancer care and prevention systems; systems for better trauma care management with dedicated trauma care teams at district and taluk levels apart from extension of the 108 Ambulance services across the State; a Medical Establishment Bill 2013 covering registration and regulation of all healthcare institutions; a data management system that will compile all household level data and also lead to an Electronic Health Record; pedagogic techniques to assure quality in the medical education sector; research and documentation and quality assurance systems for promotion of Ayurveda and Homoeopathy systems; and proposals for continued engagement with the private sector for purchasing services.