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CHILD Protection & Child Rights » IV. National Mechanisms » Child Related Policies » National Health Policy 2002

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In 1983 the Government of India came out with a National Health Policy (NHP) to govern the functioning of the public health sector. The results of the 1983 policy were mixed; while some initiative flourished others didn't yield results. In 2002 the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare introduced an updated health policy. In this policy they outlined the achievements and drawbacks of the 1983 policy and drew up new plans for the sector.

Some of the achievements discussed were regarding positive changes in incidence of diseases such as polio, malaria and leprosy. There have also been decreases in the crude birth rate, crude death rate and infant mortality rate (IMR). The health industry has benefited from improved infrastructure in the form of more beds, centres and health personnel. Even with these achievements some of the rates are too high when compared in the international community. The 1983 NHP does not address certain newer issues in health such as HIV/AIDS or lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Another major concern the new policy needs to address is macro and micro nutrient deficiencies especially in women and children.

The policy begins with an outline of the health sector scenario in 2002. The following is an outline of the NHP-2002 as it applies to children between the ages 0-18. Some of the goals set out by the policy are

  • Eradicate polio and yaws by 2005
  • Achieve zero level growth of HIV/AIDS by 2007
  • Reduce IMR to 30/1000 by 2010
  • Increase use of public health facilities to more than 75% by 2010
  • Increase government health expenditure from the current 0/9% to 2% of GDP by 2010

In an attempt to address inequalities of access to health services, the policy proposes an increase in primary health expenditure in order to open more outlets. Programmes that address children's need such as Reproductive and Child Health including the Universal Immunization Programme need to continue to function to achieve the desired goals. The policy points out that people are not using the public health services because they do not provide the patients with essential drugs. Hence the policy outlines the need to improve delivery of necessary drugs through increased central govt. funding. The policy outlines provisions of additional and supplementary training of health sector professionals. In order to expand the number of professional, the state health departments should include allopathic disciplines and doctors in their system, especially to delivery basic and primary health services.

The NCP 2002 encourages the government to further decentralize their services, to set norms as per the provisions of the Indian Medical Council Act and Indian Nursing Council Act, to set up more Medical education institutes, to update medical curriculum, and increase specialised professional in family health sector. In order to insure continuous delivery of vaccines and sera for the Universal Immunization against Preventable Diseases programme there needs to be a reserve of 50% provided by public sector institutions. NPH 2002 gives priority to school health education programmes that teach preventive techniques. This will encourage children to learn appropriate health seeking behaviours. Because of limited resources the policy outlines a need to prioritize funding to certain disease control initiatives and tailor make programmes according to the needs of target groups like children.

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