The Government of India has announced the National Health Policy 2017. We are so happy to note that many hopes of the palliative care fraternity have found a place in the document.
Some major features relevant to palliative care are:
- Healthcare Spending by the Government would double – to 2.5% of GDP by the year 2025.
- The objectives mention specifically, “Improve health status through concerted policy action in all sectors and expand preventive, promotive, curative, palliative and rehabilitative services provided through the public health sector with focus on quality.”
- Community or home-based palliative care is included among the responsibilities of frontline health workers.
- Palliative care is mentioned as 1 essential feature of primary health care.
- In child and adolescent’s health, district hospitals have been specifically asked to provide palliative care.
- The policy recognizes the growing need for palliative and rehabilitative care for all geriatric illnesses and advocates for continuity of care across all levels.
- It recommends starting specialised nursing training courses in areas including “palliative care and care of the terminally ill”.
- In primary health care, particularly in urban health care, health and wellness centres are to be developed and they are to include palliative care.
- Right to healthcare is mentioned as covering ‘a wide canvas, encompassing issues of preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative healthcare across rural and urban areas’,
- In school health, incorporation of health education as part of curriculum is mentioned.
- The policy recommends integration of medical and paramedical education with service delivery systems.
There are some disappointments, however. Representation to the government regarding the National health policy had also emphasised the need to include palliative care into the educational curricula of medical, nursing, pharmacy and social work courses. We had also requested for refining the legal and regulatory system to improve access to opioids for pain relief. These have not found a specific place in the policy document.
Long Way to go!
Here are the various evaluations that appeared in the media:
Indian Express: What is National Health Policy 2017: Everything you need to know