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Tracking BJP’s 2014 Manifesto Promises: Health Services -1

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Editor’s Note: The BJP’s manifesto for the 2014 Lok Sabha general elections had a total of 495 promises. Out of the 495 promises, many were vague promises that are difficult to track and review. In a series of stories, we track some of the tangible promises made in various sectors and review if they have been fulfilled.

The BJP has made a number of promises with regards to health services in their 2014 manifesto. While not all the promises can be verified, this article is a review of to what extent the party has kept some of its promises in the health sector.

Did the government launch a new Health Policy?

One of the promises that have been made is that the last healthcare policy dates back to 2002. India now needs a comprehensive healthcare policy to address the complex healthcare challenges, keeping in view the developments in the healthcare sector and the changing demographics. BJP will initiate the New Health Policy’.

The current BJP government has formulated the Draft National Health Policy, 2015 in the light of the changes that have taken place in the country’s health sector scenario since the formulation of the National Health Policy 2002. The Draft. National Health Policy, 2015 has been placed in public domain in December 2014 for wider stakeholder consultations.

The process of formulation of the new National Health Policy entailed wide consultation with multiple stakeholders, Regional consultations, approval of Central Council of Health and Family Welfare and Group of Ministers. The Cabinet in its meeting held on 15th March, 2017 approved the National Health Policy, 2017. According to the government’s response in the parliament, there are some points in the new policy that have not been specifically covered or addressed in the older policy.

While the larger implementation of this policy and its effectiveness remain to be reviewed, the major promise itself is fulfilled.

Promise: The last healthcare policy dates back to 2002. India now needs a comprehensive healthcare policy to address the complex healthcare challenges, keeping in view the developments in the healthcare sector and the changing demographics. BJP will initiate the New Health Policy.
Status:  The Cabinet in its meeting held on 15th March, 2017 approved the National Health Policy, 2017. The promise has been FULFILLED.

Is there a mission to provide universal health care and reduce OOP spending?

The next promise was that the government shall ‘Initiate the ‘National Health Assurance Mission’, with a clear mandate to provide universal healthcare that is not only accessible and affordable, but also effective, and reduces the OOP spending for the common man’.

While no such specific mission was launched by the current government, here is a look at various initiatives of the current government that fall under the larger ambit of providing universal health care.

  • Under the National Health Mission (NHM), support is being provided to States/UTs to strengthen their healthcare delivery system including for provision of free/affordable healthcare, free drugs and diagnostics to all those who access public health facilities.  
  • Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) has recently been transferred to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare which offers cashless benefit up to Rs.30,000 per annum per family of five for specified hospitalisation procedures is available to all BPL population and eleven other categories of vulnerable population groups.
  • A total of 21 new AIIMS have been announced out of which 7 were approved during the UPA and the remaining by the current government. Six of them are fully operational.
  • 75 government hospitals have been upgraded over the 5 phases of the scheme under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY).  However, more than 50 of these upgradations were approved during the UPA.
  • During the current government, 92 new medical colleges have been setup with an addition of more than 15000 MBBS seats.
  • Other major initiatives for which states are being supported include Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakram (JSSK), Rashtriya Bal SwasthyaKaryakram (RBSK), Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK), implementation of NHM Free Drugs and Free Diagnostics Service Initiatives, PM National Dialysis Programme and implementation of National Quality Assurance Framework.
  • Ayushman Bharat is a National Health Protection Scheme, which is meant to cover 10 crore poor and vulnerable families (approximately 50 crore beneficiaries) providing coverage up to 5 lakh rupees per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization has been launched. The eligible beneficiaries are selected using the SECC deprivation criteria.
  • The Jan Aushadhi program launched by the previous government was reviewed and strengthened. 3771 ‘Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP) Kendras’ opened in 34 States/Union Territories of the country during the current government.
  • The working of National Health Mission (NHM) is reviewed/assessed through external surveys such as, National Family Health Survey (NFHS), District Level Household Survey (DLHS), Annual Health Survey (AHS) and Sample Registration System (SRS).

While some of the above are new initiatives, some others are continuation of the programs launched by the UPA. All in all, it is difficult to say if this promise is fulfilled since major programs were launched only in the later half of the tenure. Hence this promise is remains ‘In Progress’.

Promise: Initiate the ‘National Health Assurance Mission’, with a clear mandate to provide universal healthcare that is not only accessible and affordable, but also effective, and reduces the OOP spending for the common man.
Status: While some are new initiatives, some others are continuation of the programs launched by the UPA. All in all, it is difficult to say if this promise is fulfilled since major programs were launched only in the later half of the tenure. Hence this promise is ‘IN PROGRESS’

Reorganization of Departments

Yet another promise that was made about this sector is to Reorganize Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in order to converge various departments dealing in healthcare, food and nutrition and pharmaceuticals, for effective delivery of healthcare services.

The Department of Pharmaceuticals is still under the Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers. This department deals with the supply of drugs, pricing of drugs to make them affordable, the Jan Aushadi stores etc. The Food & Nutrition board is still under the Ministry of Women & Child Development. Hence this promise is broken.

Promise: Reorganize Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in order to converge various departments dealing in healthcare, food and nutrition and pharmaceuticals, for effective delivery of healthcare services.
Statue: The Department of Pharmaceuticals is still under the Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilisers. This promise is BROKEN.

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