Focus on equitable, affordable healthcare to all

A comprehensive health policy, which takes into consideration the State’s current and future health challenges and which sets the course (for the State) to move towards achieving Universal Health Coverage, is expected to be announced on April 7, World Health Day.

Announcing this at a discussion on the State’s Health Policy, which is still in the drafting stage, Health Minister V.S. Sivakumar said here on Saturday that the State’s health sector was going through a transition like never before, with the focus now on providing accessible, equitable, and affordable healthcare to all.

The discussion was organised by the Indian Medical Association here on Saturday.

Mr. Sivakumar, who listed the pro-people initiatives of the government in the health sector — free generic drugs in all government hospitals, Karunya fair price medical shops, Karunya benevolent fund, accreditation of government hospitals — agreed that shortage of human resource was a major challenge faced by the public health system.

The current staff pattern in the public health system, which was fixed in 1961, will be revised to create more posts of doctors and other paramedical staff, Mr. Sivakumar said.

Opening the discussion, the chairman of the Health Policy drafting committee, former Director of Medical Education, M. Balaraman Nair, said the policy was drafted with the guiding principle that access to healthcare was the fundamental right of all citizens.

The draft policy lays emphasis on improving the health of women and adolescent girls and tackling the problems of anaemia and malnutrition as this was vital to reduce the State’s neonatal mortality rate. It also points out that the government should engage the private sector healthcare providers within a regulatory framework as it was impossible for the government to provide all services everywhere.

Primary prevention of non-communicable diseases, a pharmaceutical policy, a separate State council for laboratory medical sciences, creating a wide network of trauma care and emergency medicine centres, strengthening primary health care services though the introduction of a family medicine course for all fresh MBBS doctors are some of the suggestions that will go into the final draft of the health policy, Dr. Nair said.

Those who took part in the discussion included the convener of the drafting committee, D. Rajmohan; S. S. Lal, WHO consultant; M. Krishnan Nair, former Director, Regional Cancer Centre; senior representatives of IMA; faculty members of medical colleges; representatives of Health Services; M.I. Sahadulla, chairman, KIMS group; M.A. Kumar, former Director of Medical Education; among many others.