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Taking a look at poll manifestos

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Prof Nandimath, NLSIU and Dr Alexander Thomas, AHPI draw strategies for India’s future healthcare plans

As the worlds largest democracy gets underway to elect its representatives to the 17th Lok Sabha, the political parties present, the future plan for India’s development in the form of election manifestos.

It is probably for the first time in India, that the election manifestos of most of the political parties have chosen to address the issues of healthcare and medical education, and have drawn up strategies to fulfil these assurances.

Taking a look at the poll manifestos of the two major national parties, the ruling and the opposition, it is evident that both emphasise on the fact that healthcare is a priority issue that needs to be addressed at all levels from primary to tertiary.

The ruling party having launched the Ayushman Bharat scheme to benefit around 10.7 crore BPL families, up to the tune of Rs 5 lakh annual health coverage, proposes to open 1,50,000 health and wellness centres by 2022 ( currently only 17,500 are functioning) to strengthen the primary healthcare delivery. They also propose to evolve the sssential medical devices list and decide upon a pricing policy to ensure accessibility and affordability.

The opposition party, on the other hand proposes, to more than double the health care spending by the government from 1-5% to 3% of GDP by 2023-2024. They also propose to enact the ‘Right to Health Care Act’ for every citizen to access free healthcare and to implement universal healthcare, replacing the current national insurance scheme. They also plan to ensure implementation of the Clinical Establishment Act, ensuring accountability of health care providers, and to formulate the national telemedicine policy. They also assure full implementation of the national mental health policy and Mental Healthcare Act.

Regarding the provisions to be made to ensure availability of manpower to achieve what is promised, the ruling party proposes to set up one medical college in each district by 2024, along with 75 institutes to be set up by 2022. They also propose to strengthen the health and wellness centres with diagnostic and telemedicine facilities and ensure 100 per cent immunisation coverage of children and pregnant women by 2022. In addition, they propose to strengthen the programme to eliminate tuberculosis by 2025 -TB Mukht Bharat.

The opposition party proposes to increase the availability of the required manpower through education, financing and establishment of new medical colleges. They also propose to shift to a free hospital model, and establish trauma and emergency centres and expand the dial in ambulance services. They also propose digitisation of medical records with provision for privacy, mobility and interoperability. Also, there are proposals to license pre-qualified institutions in public health sector and private sector, to teach and certify professionals such as nurses paramedics and medical technicians.

All vacancies are to be filled within a period of one year.

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