Policy Matter

Need to reach out to unreached populations and meet their healthcare needs

“To achieve the goal of ensuring healthy lives and wellbeing for all, we have to reach out to unreached populations and meet their healthcare needs”. This was stated by Minister of State, Health & Family Welfare Shripad Yesso Naik, here today, at the concluding session of the two-day National Consultation on Transitioning from MDGs to SDGs which was jointly organised by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, WHO, UNFPA and UNICEF.healthcare

The Minister stated that what should occupy us more now is to identify the key strategic approaches that build on the gains we have made so far, address our weaknesses and nudge us towards our goals. He mentioned that this shall be challenging as it is nearly impossible for the governments at central or state levels, working alone, to achieve the multiple targets that are bundled in SDG 3. Shri Naik stated that convergence will be required with all sectors that impact health to jointly undertake support and advocacy to build a shared vision.

The Minister pointed out that for achieving SDG 3 centred on Universal Health Coverage, the Government is working at strengthening access to comprehensive primary health care at the level of a strengthened sub-centre to provide a comprehensive package of healthcare services. Also, States are being supported to expand access to free drugs and diagnostic services to reduce high out of pocket expenditures. To assure continuity of care, strengthening of district hospitals for multi-speciality care is also being encouraged and supported, Naik stated. The continuity of care will run on a robust IT backbone thereby improving efficiency of healthcare. Moreover, measures to reinforce quality of care in public sector facilities such as the launch of National Quality Assurance Programme and the Kayakalp awards are being implemented, he noted. The new national Health Protection Scheme announced by the Government in this year’s General Budget will help provide affordable health cover for secondary and tertiary care hospitalizations for the poor and vulnerable population, he further added.

Naik also cautioned that business as usual will not help in achieving the health agenda under SDG. In order to reach the last mile goals, things will need to be done differently. This will require structural and systemic changes in our ways of implementation, of measurement, and of governance and aligning the incentives to service providers, he said.

He added that for moving ahead we must learn from the experience of the MDGs and introspect what changes to institutional structures and systems need to be made so that we do not wait for 15 more years to see changes that will improve the lives of the poorest and most marginalized in our country.

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