How Niti Aayog, Health ministry plans privatisation of urban health centres
Concerned over the rise in non-communicable diseases in urban India, the Centre is working on a policy that will increase the role of private hospitals in the health sector.
Earlier, the Niti Aayog had sent a draft copy to all state chief secretaries for their comments and views on the policy in which the states will have to allot 50 beds in all 300-bed state-run hospitals to private players for the private-public partnership project in towns other than metropolitan cities.
According to the contract, the state has to sign a lease for 30 years over parts of district hospital buildings and also need to share their back-end services such as blood banks and ambulance services with the private players. Along with this, the state government could also provide part of funds to the private players in order ro set up new hospitals.
However, States like Tamil Nadu have rejected the scheme stating they have been able to provide quality care through the state health insurance scheme that covers 70% of the population at 10% of the health budget.
Scroll in reviewed a copy of the proposal by Niti Aayog and the health ministry along with the note on it sent to the states.
Objective of the policy?
The main objective of the National Health Policy 2017 is to achieve the highest possible level of good health and well-being, through a preventive and promotive health care orientation in all developmental policies, and to achieve universal access to good quality health care services without anyone having to face financial hardship as a consequence. In order to provide access and financial protection, the policy proposes free drugs, free diagnostics and free emergency care services in all public hospitals. The primary aim of the policy is to inform, clarify, strengthen and prioritize the role of the Government in shaping health systems.
However, under the model contract, the private hospitals will be providing treatment for cancer, heart diseases and respiratory tract ailments at prices that are not higher than that of government health insurance schemes. Also, the district government hospital will be expected to share its ambulance services, blood blank, physiotherapy services, bio-medical waste disposal system, mortuary services, parking facilities, electricity load, in-patient payment counters and hospital security with the private enterprise running out of its campus. The contract also says that for treating non-communicable diseases, the hospitals will need to have out-patient departments, in-patient beds, beds for intensive care, operation theatres, centre for angioplasty and angiography, laboratories and radiology services.
Going by the contract:
The district hospitals would be required to lease out 30,000 square feet for a 50-bed private hospital or 60,000 square feet for a 100-bed operation. If the state government agrees initially to a 50-bed private hospital, the district administration will have to provide 75% of this space within the already-built part of the government hospital.
For the private players in critical health care sector:
The Government approved the National Health Policy-2017, bringing to an end a two year long process. A draft of the policy was available since mid-2015 but it is believed that the government, at the Niti Ayog's behest had been unhappy with some specific parts of the earlier draft that was critical of the private sector.
The Scroll.in reviewed the draft policy and said that the first draft of the National Health Policy prepared by the ministry's steering committee in 2015 had pushed for higher investment by the government in public health. However, the latest one limits the role of the private sector to strategic purchase of services.
Meanwhile, the officials of Niti Aayog officials said that several states have welcomed the policy while many others have suggested modifications on the number of beds, paid services and lease term.