New health policy: Comprehensive Primary Care Services at the grassroots in Kerala.

The Kerala State’s new health policy focusses on strengthening primary care services and equipping the public health system to deliver quality and affordable care so that one of the major issues in the State’s health sector impoverishing catastrophic health-care expenditure can be reduced.

The draft of the policy, prepared by an expert committee headed by B. Ekbal, member of the State Planning Board, had been approved by the Cabinet last year. The final version, incorporating suggestions received from the public as well as other stakeholders, was approved by the Cabinet on Thursday.

The policy lays accent on restructuring and revamping public sector health institutions and recognises increasing human resource in health and better investment in public health as crucial to achieving the Universal Health Care goals set by the State.

The focus will be on comprehensive primary care services at the grassroots, with an accent on prevention, early detection, and management of non-communicable diseases on hand, while at the same time, improving the secondary and tertiary care services in public hospitals so that the burden of disease prevalence and morbidities can also be tackled.

The government will thus aim at raising its current expenditure on health from the current 0.6% of GSDP to at least 5% and strive to increase it by 1% every year.

The policy advocates the setting up of a public health care in the Health Services, by including doctors with qualifications in public health management. In effect, the Health Services will be bifurcated into the Directorate of Public Health and Directorate of Clinical Services. These two, plus the Directorate of Medical Education, will be under the Director General Health (Modern Medicine).

The policy recommends that a three-tier policy is followed in the health system, maintaining medical colleges strictly as referral centres.

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