Monday December 17, 2018

Could National Health Policy Bill 2017 become a new milestone in healthcare? Find out Yourself

The policy is expected to reach healthcare to all corners of the country, particularly the underserved and underprivileged

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New Delhi, March 16, 2017: The union cabinet on Wednesday gave the green light to the National Health Policy Bill 2017 two years after a draft copy of the bill was circulated among stakeholders. After considering suggestions from the public, state governments and others, the new policy will replace the previous one, which was framed 15 years ago in 2002. The upcoming policy’s objective is to raise the public expenditure to the 2.5 percent of GDP with more than two-thirds of those resources going towards primary healthcare.

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The policy, which desires to cater healthcare services in a “guaranteed way” to all, will contemplate current and impending difficulties emerging from the constantly evolving financial, technological and epidemiological scenarios.

The policy is expected to reach healthcare to all corners of the country, particularly the underserved and underprivileged.

“National Health policy will provide free medicines and ‘assured’ health services to all and aims to reduce out of pocket health expenditure,” Health minister J P Nadda said in Lok Sabha.

This new health policy will work along the lines of Digital India. The Health Minister said that under the policy, family health card will be made which will be connected to Public Healthcare facility so that a patient’s history can be digitally accessed.

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  • The government aims in shifting focus from “sick-care” to “wellness”, by promoting prevention and well-being.
  • It aims to ensure availability of 2 beds per 1000 population distributed in a manner to enable access within the golden hour.
  • * To strengthen health systems by ensuring everyone has the access to quality services and technology despite financial barriers. The policy proposes increasing access, improving quality and reducing costs. It proposes free drugs, free diagnostics and free emergency and essential healthcare services in public hospitals.
  • * To focus on primary health care: The policy advocates allocating two-thirds (or more) of resources to primary care. It proposes two beds per 1,000 of the population to enable access within the golden hour (the first 60 minutes after a traumatic injury).
  • * To reduce morbidity and preventable mortality of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) by advocating pre-screening.
  • * To promote Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative by using drugs and devices manufactured in the country.
  • * It highlights AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy) as a tool for effective prevention and therapy that is safe and cost-effective. It proposes introducing Yoga in more schools and offices to promote good health.
  • * Reforming medical education.

The policy also lists quantitative targets regarding life expectancy from 67.5 to 70 by 2025, reduce Infant Mortality Rate to 28 by 2019, Under Five Mortality Rate to 23 by 2025, and maternal mortality rate (MMR) from current levels to 100 by 2020.

The series of benefits doesn’t just end here. While talking to Moneycontrol.com, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Chairperson and managing director of Biocon Hospitals, said policy’s aim could become a huge driver in creating millions of jobs.

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“The policy’s aim to ensure availability of 2 beds per 1000 population within the golden hour is addressing the opportunity for 2 million hospital beds. It will turn the hospitals into huge job creators as it will help in generating nearly 6 million jobs,” said Kiran Mazumdar Shaw.

 

 -prepared by Ashish Srivastava of NewsGram Twitter @PhulRetard

 

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Hospitals Worldwide Detain Patients If They Cant Pay The Bill

Earlier this month, the High Court ruled again that imprisoning patients “is not one of the acceptable avenues [for hospitals] to recover debt.

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Margaret Oliele, a former detained patient, poses for a portrait in her home in Nairobi, Kenya. VOA

Doctors at Nairobi’s Kenyatta National Hospital have told Robert Wanyonyi there’s nothing more they can do for him. Yet more than a year after he first arrived, shot and paralyzed in a robbery, the ex-shopkeeper remains trapped in the hospital.

Because Wanyonyi cannot pay his bill of nearly 4 million Kenyan shillings ($39,570), administrators are refusing to let him leave his fourth-floor bed.

At Kenyatta National Hospital and at an astonishing number of hospitals around the world, if you don’t pay up, you don’t go home.

The hospitals often illegally detain patients long after they should be medically discharged, using armed guards, locked doors and even chains to hold those who have not settled their accounts. Even death does not guarantee release: Kenyan hospitals and morgues are holding hundreds of bodies until families can pay their loved ones’ bills, government officials say.

An Associated Press investigation has found evidence of hospital imprisonments in more than 30 countries worldwide, according to hospital records, patient lists and interviews with dozens of doctors, nurses, health academics, patients and administrators. The detentions were found in countries including the Philippines, India, China, Thailand, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Bolivia and Iran. Of more than 20 hospitals visited by the AP in Congo, only one did not detain patients.

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A relative adjusts the oxygen mask of a tuberculosis patient at a TB hospital on World Tuberculosis Day in Hyderabad, India. VOA

Millions possibly affected

“What’s striking about this issue is that the more we look for this, the more we find it,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute. “It’s probably hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people that this affects worldwide.”

During several August visits to Kenyatta National Hospital — a major medical institution designated a Center of Excellence by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — the AP witnessed armed guards in military fatigues standing watch over patients. Detainees slept on bedsheets on the floor in cordoned-off rooms. Guards prevented one worried father from seeing his detained toddler.

Kenya’s ministry of health and Kenyatta canceled several scheduled interviews with the AP and declined to respond to repeated requests for comment.

Health experts decry hospital imprisonment as a human rights violation. Yet the United Nations, U.S. and international health agencies, donors and charities have all remained silent while pumping billions of dollars into these countries to support their splintered health systems or to fight outbreaks of diseases including AIDS and malaria.

“People know patients are being held prisoner, but they probably think they have bigger battles in public health to fight, so they just have to let this go,” said Sophie Harman, a global health expert at Queen Mary University of London.

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Detained patients lie on beds in the Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya. VOA

Hospitals often acknowledge detaining patients isn’t profitable, but many say it can sometimes result in a partial payment and serves as a deterrent.

‘A way to conduct business’

Festus Njuguna, an oncologist at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret, about 300 kilometers northwest of Nairobi, said the institution regularly detains children with cancer who have finished their treatment, but whose parents cannot pay.

“It’s not a very good feeling for the doctors and nurses who have treated these patients, to see them kept like this,” Njuguna said.

Still, many officials openly defend the practice.

“We can’t just let people leave if they don’t pay,” said Leedy Nyembo-Mugalu, administrator of Congo’s Katuba Reference Hospital. He said holding patients wasn’t an issue of human rights, but simply a way to conduct business: “No one ever comes back to pay their bill a month or two later.”

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FILE – A Yemeni woman suspected of being infected with cholera receives treatment at a hospital in the capital Sanaa. VOA

Global health agencies and companies that operate where patients are held hostage often have very little to say about it.

The CDC provides about $1.5 million every year to Kenyatta National Hospital and Pumwani Maternity Hospital, helping to cover treatment costs for patients with HIV and tuberculosis, among other programs. The CDC declined to comment on whether it was aware that patients were regularly detained at the two hospitals or if it condones the practice.

Dr. Agnes Soucat of the World Health Organization said it does not support patient detentions, but has been unable to document where it happens. And while the WHO has issued hundreds of health recommendations on issues from AIDS to Zika virus, the agency has never published any guidance advising countries not to imprison people in their hospitals.

‘Cruel, inhuman and degrading’

Many Kenyan human rights advocates lament that hospitals continue to hold patients despite what was seen as a landmark judgment in 2015.

Back then, the High Court ruled that the detention of two women at Pumwani who couldn’t pay their delivery fees — Maimuna Omuya and Margaret Oliele — was “cruel, inhuman and degrading.” Omuya and her newborn were held for almost a month next to a flooded toilet while Oliele was handcuffed to her bed after trying to escape.

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A doctor gestures outside a hospital in the Algerian town of Boufarik, as the country faces a cholera outbreak. VOA

Earlier this month, the High Court ruled again that imprisoning patients “is not one of the acceptable avenues [for hospitals] to recover debt.”

Omuya said she is still psychologically scarred by her detention at Pumwani, especially after another recent run-in with a Nairobi hospital.

Also Read: Kenya’s First Breast Milk Bank to Combat Newborn Mortality

Several months ago, her youngest brother was treated for a suspected poisoning. When Omuya and her family were unable to pay the bill, the situation took a familiar but unwelcome turn: he was imprisoned. Her brother was only freed after his doctor intervened.

“Detentions still go on because there are no rights here,” Omuya said. “What I suffered, I want no one else to suffer.” (VOA)