THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The state’s wait for a health policy continues despite the state government claiming for the past one year that a comprehensive policy would be rolled out soon. Though the draft has been finalised, there is an unexplained delay in publishing it.The government had in September 2016 constituted a committee under Planning Board Member and former Kerala University Vice-Chancellor Dr B Ekbal for formulating the health policy. The committee was asked to submit a report within two months.
Though health experts and officials note there has been an inordinate delay in publishing the draft even though it was complete, Health Minister K K Shylaja said everything was finalised and it would be brought out next month.
The committee had submitted the draft to the government a few months ago. It was almost finalised after several rounds of talks and the draft was even printed. However, the government had some reservations on some of the suggestions and the draft had to be revised, which is said to have taken some more time.
The National Health Policy has already come out and was published after the draft was in the public domain for a long time. Highly placed sources in the Health Department said the policy is being delayed for unknown reasons. And if everything was finalised, then why is the delay in publishing it, they asked. It is high time the government came out with the policy rather than repeatedly claiming to publish it at the earliest, they added.
Express had in March quoted the committee members that the draft was finalised and it was only a matter of finalising the date of publication. However, it is now six months that the draft still awaits the approval of the cabinet.According to the draft policy that is with Express, it envisages the division of Health Department into Medicine and Ayush sectors, each under a director general. And in Modern Medicine, the draft stipulates three directorates – Directorate of Public Health, Directorate of Clinical Services and Directorate of Medical Education. The policy that focusses on bringing down the out of pocket expenditure has suggested increasing Sin Taxes (taxes on tobacco and alcohol), bringing in health cess and health levy and consolidating all funds to the health care fund.
With regard to the appointment of doctors, the draft policy calls for a Medical Recruitment Board. It says the appointments to medical colleges should be restricted to doctors having post graduate degrees. It also proposes a system for ensuring proper registration of private hospitals and standard of treatment in the wake of allegations that private hospitals do not have any commitment to the public or the government.
As part of bringing down drug cost, the draft proposes drug manufacturing units in public sector, establishing a medical devices park and a modern drug research centre.
The National Health Policy has already come out and was published after the draft was in the public domain for a long time. Highly placed sources in the Health Department said the policy is being delayed for unknown reasons.