National Health Policy 2017: a cautious welcome
On March 15, 2017 the union cabinet approved the new National Health Policy. The next day a 28-page policy text and an accompanying 13-page situational analysis were placed in Parliament and in the public domain. To have, at all times, a health policy in place that shows a road map on how a nation would show “progressive realization” of health as a basic human right is an obligation under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. This is an international treaty adopted in 1976, to which India became a signatory in 1979, and this was one of the catalysts for the adoption of the first National Health Policy in 1 983 (3). The immediate political backdrop to the articulation of a National Health Policy 2017 (NHP 2017), replacing the 2002 policy, is that a new health policy and a national health assurance plan were both part of the BJP’s electoral manifesto. It has taken close to 34 months after the government took office, and some 26 months after the draft was circulated for public discussion, to finally approve the policy. This is reflective of the considerable contestation and contradictory pressures, often almost evenly matched, that went into finalising this policy.
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