Expert advice for govt on universal healthcare coverage by 2020

First draft of recommendations to be included in 12th five year plan will be given by month end.

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Sonal Matharu | January 19, 2011



A high level expert group on health constituted by the planning commission will soon be submitting its first draft suggesting measures which the government should adopt to achieve universal healthcare coverage (UHC) in the 12th five year plan, Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) president K Srinath Reddy, who is a member of the group, said here recently.

One of the major steps the expert group will push for will be increasing the public spending on healthcare from one percent to three percent of the GDP. Keeping in mind that over 72 percent of out-of-pocket expenditure on health is on medicines, the group will also urge the government to follow the Tamil Nadu model where drug procurement is done by the state government and primary health centres are provided drugs to be given free to the patients.

Though the group identifies there are multiple concepts which will help achieve UHC, said Reddy, the country has resources to achieve the target.

“Our destination is 2020 but we have to begin now and correct the imbalances in the health systems. Health inequalities, health finances human resources in health, all are tied together for the universal health coverage,” he said.

Pooling of the health resources which can be managed by an effective system is another suggestion the experts will be proposing to the government besides bringing the private health structure to work with the public sector.

They add that the centre should also assist states in financial resource allocation as the poor states cannot increase spending on health. Efforts should be made to reverse the trend of 50 percent of the state health expenditure moving to the tertiary care and attention should be focused on strengthening the primary and the secondary healthcare delivery. “Distortions that have occurred in the past must be corrected,” said Reddy.
 

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