IMA national head trashes Centre’s draft health policy


The Union government’s draft health policy lacks clear directions, said neurosurgeon A Marthanda Pillai, national president of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), on Sunday. He was in the city for the installation ceremony of the newly-elected office bearers of Pune chapter of IMA.

Thirteen years after the last national health policy, the C has brought out a draft new national health policy, which is in the public domain for discussions.

Drawing attention to the American model of insurance-driven healthcare provisioning, Pillai said: “Providing health insurance to the poor is not going to positively impact their lives. However, it will allow the insurance companies to pocket almost half the amount dedicated to the cause.” He added that the government should increase the public expenditure on health which is currently a meagre 1.2 per cent of the GDP at present.

While stating that various health programmes and policies in the past have not been able to achieve the desired results, Pillai pointed that ‘India’s level of public spending on health was one of the lowest in the world’.

“The low public spending on health has led to poor health status in the country. The Union government should ensure that more focus is given to strengthen primary, secondary and tertiary-care services,” Pillai said, adding that the policy seems to be giving undue importance to corporate sector forgetting the fact that a majority of healthcare in the country is still delivered by small-scale institutions.

“Government policy should aim to sustain and promote these small and medium-scale institutions so that affordability and accessibility is not affected,” Pillai said.

Government should consciously discourage the corporate culture in healthcare since it would push up the cost of treatment and affect accessibility since all the corporate hospitals are city centered, he added.

Criticism & suggestion

The lack of any clear policy direction may lead to uncontrolled, unregulated expansion

It has a reluctant and hesitant approach towards enhancing GDP for health. If government starts to spend 4-5% of GDP, a real impact can be made in the sector

Union government should increase the public expenditure on health from the current level of 1.2% of the GDP to at least 2.5% by the end of the 12th Plan and to at least 3% of the GDP by 2022.

It is almost silent on many things, including improving the family planning program or on how to improve medical education, on health education in the schools and reducing infant mortality and maternal mortality

A large part of allocation of funds is spent on pay and allowances, pensions, transport and establishments. Funds for actual expenditure on health and medical care needs to be specified

The policy should give greater focus for preventive and rehabilitative care in context of rising burden of non-communicable diseases

On clinical Establishment Act

The need for standardization and quality healthcare services is understandable, but the mechanism to ensure it through Clinical Establishment Act will be counter-productive. A process of voluntary and incentive driven accreditation is the best practical option


The harassment of doctors in Pune and in rest of the country over trivial clerical mistakes presents a sad state of affairs. There should not be too much emphasis on detecting minor and trivial mistakes in Form F. Curbing sex determination should be kept in mind while carrying out the inspection. The IMA along with national hospitals as well as radiologists association has formed a committee to give out a report on modification that needs to be effected in the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act. A trivial mistake in form filling can not be equated with actual sex determination carried out. However, both the mistakes are judged on the same scale in the Act.

New body of IMA Pune chapter takes over

Gynaecologist Avinash Bhutkar took over as the president of the new body of the IMA, Pune chapter on Sunday. Other officer bearers included ophthalmologist Mohan Joshi (president elect), ophthalmologist Prakash Marathe (vice president), surgeon Padma Iyer (treasurer), ophthalmologist Sanjay Patil (honourary secretary), gynaecologist Aarti Nimkar (honourary secretary) and physiologist Pranita Ashok (joint secretary). Senior paediatrician Jayant Navarange was given President Appreciation award while senior paediatrician Suresh Gokhale was conferred with Lifetime Achievement award in medicine. Cardiologist Rituparna Shinde was given Young Achiever’s award.

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