There is an imminent need to increase public spending on health and medical care in India, K. Srinivasan, former director, International Institute for Population Sciences, said.

It was expected that India would allocate two per cent for health care, but that expectation has not yet been realised. Also, with the increasing trend of public-private partnerships entering health care, it is essential to remember that the government cannot abdicate its responsibility towards providing health services for the citizens.

Dr. Srinivasan was speaking on ‘Health Policies in India – A Review' at a lecture organised by the Voluntary Health Services, here. While there were no health policies in pre-Independent India, subsequently, the Bhore Committee made several recommendations to prevent communicable diseases, promote health and provide basic health care. This report formed the basis of the Indian public health system that prevails till date.

He also spoke of the global movements towards ‘Right to Health,' initiated by the Soviet Union. The French Constitution of 1946 ‘guarantees to all... protection of health.' In 1965-66, the United States declared health a human right. The declaration by the International Conference on Primary health Care held in Alma Ata (USSR) in 1978 declared the goal of global health programs should be “Health for All” by 2000. It called for urgent and effective national and international action to develop and implement primary health care throughout the world and particularly in developing countries.

The National Health Policy (NHP), formulated in 1983, was the first attempt to synthesise recommendations of three important earlier committees, the Bhore Committee of 1946, the Mudaliar Committee of 1962, the Shrivastav Committee of 1975, and the Alma Ata declaration.

The second major policy endeavour is National Health Policy 2002, which followed on the heels of the National Population Policy 2000. Both policies grew in the context of liberalisation and globalisation, Dr. Srinivasan said.

The NRHM implemented across the country since 1995 is another key policy shift that has seen improvements in using public health facilities.