India has prioritised strengthening its health system as a “non-negotiable” strategy to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, Union Health Minister J P Nadda said on Thursday. India stands “unwavering” in its commitment towards synergising collaboration with BRICS countries in the health sector, said Nadda at a meeting among the health ministers of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries in Tianjin city.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is a set of 17 “Global Goals” with 169 targets covering various sectors like health, education and climate change among others.
“Strengthening of health system is critical to achieving the SDGs. India has prioritised strengthening health systems as a non-negotiable strategy towards achieving SDGs,” he said at the meeting on the ‘Strengthen Health System and Achieve Health-Related SDGs’ theme.
Nadda stressed on the importance of building strong and resilient health system.
The case for strengthening health system stems from the basic realisation that even the most well-crafted or well-designed health interventions cannot succeed without a strengthened health system that encompasses improvements in healthcare service provision, utilisation among others.
The health minister said that the health sector adds direct economic value by expanding the number of jobs, investing in infrastructure projects and purchasing supplies needed for health-care delivery.
Reiterating the commitment of the Indian government, he said that “India stands unwavering in its commitment towards synergising collaboration with BRICS countries especially through the ‘BRICS Framework for Collaboration on Strategic Projects in Health'”.
Nadda elaborated that the National Health Policy, 2017 adopted by India is aligned with the SDG-3 targets.
“The new policy enunciates health in all policies, comprehensive primary healthcare, organisation of public healthcare delivery, improving vaccines and drug security and progressive movement towards universal health coverage,” the health minister said.
Noting that the National Health Mission (NHM) is one of the largest health programmes in the world, Nadda said the mission represents the prime vehicle to achieve the SDG-3 and, in its next phase, will align its goals with the National Health Policy 2017 and the SDG-3.
India has expanded the number of vaccines under the Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP) and launched Mission Indradhanush aimed at expanding coverage by reaching the unreached, he said.
“India has taken various measures to augment number, quality and skill mix and geographical distribution to address shortage of critical health human resource such as increasing medical seats, upgradation of district hospitals to medical colleges in underserved areas, establishing new AIIMS,” Nadda said.
The proposed National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS) envisages inclusion of preventive care, robust IT platform, strong grievance redressal mechanism in addition to expanding both population and benefit coverage and providing an additional coverage to senior citizens, he said, noting that there is a growing burden of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) on account of premature mortality and morbidity.
India has launched a universal population-based free screening, control and management programme for five common NCDs that is envisaged to translate into one of the largest population-based screening and management programmes in the world in the next a few years, Nadda added.