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NITI Aayog Pitches for Reform in Health Sector

Government think-tank NITI Aayog has pitched for reform in the governance of medical, nursing, dentistry and pharmacy education in the country, enhancing production of doctors, skilling non-physicians, engaging private sector and ensuring access to affordable drugs and medical devices in its ‘Strategy for New India @75’ document released on Wednesday. The Aayog has suggested creating conditions to facilitate the import of doctors, especially those of Indian origin working abroad, and also deploying teachers from universities abroad as visiting professors at AIIMS or NIEs and developing framework for deployment of doctors and specialists from the private sector to government hospitals on a visiting or honorary basis to address the shortage of doctors. It has recommended expanding the system of Diplomate of National Board (DNB) and Diplomas from College of Physicians and Surgeons (CPS) to help address the shortage of specialists in the country and link at least 40 percent of district hospitals with medical colleges.

The Aayog has pitched for reforming the governance of medical, nursing, dentistry and pharmacy education in the country by enacting the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill, 2017. It suggested establishment of a Council for Allied Health Professionals to ensure standardization of education and putting in place quality control mechanisms for educational institutions, teaching methods, clinical protocols and workforce management. It suggested putting in place an updated curriculum for medical and allied professions that keeps pace with the changing dynamics of public health, policy and demographics. It also called for initiating steps to stop private practice by faculty of government teaching institutions by providing attractive salaries and incentives. To achieve universal health coverage, the Aayog has pitched for ensuring access to affordable drugs and medical devices.

It has recommended institution of a new Drug Price Control Order (DPCO), which ensures rational drug prices by reducing trade margins and including consumables, in addition to drugs, in the DPCO to control undue profiteering. It also called for finalizing the national pharmaceutical policy to enable access to affordable medicines, promote the use of generic drugs, clamp down on unfair marketing practices and give a boost to local manufacturing to reduce dependence on imports. It also recommended formulating and implement the e-pharmacy policy to facilitate online access to quality medicines in a cost-effective and timely manner. “Review and iron out the challenges with the business model of Jan Aushadhi stores to ensure that they can function as self-sustaining entities and scale up rapidly across the country,” the report said. – Business Standard