National Health Conclave to stem NCD tide

By: Dhananjay Kumar
2 day meet starting May 25 to come out with a White Paper

New Delhi: The ever rising burden of Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) on India is staring into its stride towards being a global economic power. It calls for immediate policy intervention for stemming the NCD epidemic that might sap the energy of the nation and leave it unequal to the task. National Health Conclave slated in May promises to be a melting pot of all great healthcare minds that would concretise the road map for tackling the impending menace. The deliberations compiled as a white paper would be a huge influence on government’s future policy formulations.
The conclave would also firm up the resolve to accomplish ever elusive goal of Universal Health Coverage (UHC). Increasing burden of NCDs coupled with still raging communicable diseases may spell disaster for Indian economy on a roll. Its theme is: Chronic Care-Innovations, opportunities and challenges. Organized by Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) and Association of Healthcare Providers India (AHPI), this first of its kind get together of all healthcare stakeholders including Union Ministry of Health and Family welfare and its associated institutions is being looked at as a first step towards revitalizing healthcare in chronic conditions through multi sectoral collaborative efforts.
The National Health Conclave hopes to be the first step in a multi-sectoral collaborative approach to strengthening healthcare systems in India. The conclave endeavours to be a national level think-tank for paving a road-map to address the issues related to NCDs. It will be a platform for premier institutions and organizations to discuss and deliberate on the various issues that affect the nation’s health scenario. The conclave will be an ideal stage for health and non-health sectors to share and learn from experiences and imbibe best practices for health system strengthening.
The deliberations of the meet are expected to result in the formulation of strategies and recommendations that will help in policy development and implementation. The white paper that will be drafted from the proceedings of the conclave is expected to aide in synergizing efforts of the public and private sectors in combating the NCD epidemic. The CONCLAVE, as the name suggests, will bring stakeholders including government, research institutions, academia, industry, community and international agencies on one platform to find a lasting solution.
Non-communicable diseases (NCD) are the leading cause of deaths globally, accounting for 38 million of the 56 million deaths in 2012. According to World Health Organization (WHO) data, 48%of NCD deaths in low- and middle-income countries in 2012 occurred before the age of 70 years. It is estimated that 80%of premature heart disease, stroke and diabetes can be prevented. Almost three quarters of all NCD deaths (28 million) & the majority of premature deaths (82%) occurs in low-and middle- income countries. (Global Status Report on Non Communicable Diseases, 2014)
India too is experiencing a rapid health transition with a rising burden of NCDs. In the 21stcentury, where India is making marked economic progress, it faces an ever increasing burden of NCDs while still continuing the fight against communicable diseases. According to the WHO, the burden of NCDs has increased alarmingly all over the world and India is a major contributor to this burden. Overall, NCDs are emerging as the leading cause of deaths in India, accounting for over 42% of all deaths (Registrar General of India).
NCDs not only have a serious impact on human health, but also on economic growth. Most non communicable conditions are chronic and these chronic conditions can cause significant morbidity and mortality both in urban and rural population groups, with a huge loss in potentially productive years (aged 35–64 years) of life. NCDs have been known to cause catastrophic health expenditure at an individual level as well as a macroeconomic loss at the national and international level.
Rising to become the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in India as well as globally, NCDs have become the dominant public health challenge of the 21st century. Although, India’s healthcare sector has made impressive strides in recent years, it is critical to strengthen its capacity to tackle the chronic disease epidemic both efficiently and effectively. While entry of corporate sector has greatly improved the access to tertiary care in urban India, greater focus on primary care so as to bring about continuity in care remains the foremost priority. It is of utmost importance to comprehend the various steps that need to be taken and develop a road map to address the NCDs through the network of PHCs in the government sector supplemented with efforts from the private sector.
Health care has emerged as one of the largest as well as the most challenging service sector industries in India. India is working aggressively to achieve the goal of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) for all its citizens, with initial efforts aimed at individuals living below the poverty line. With a number of government health insurance schemes in the offing, it is estimated that approximately 50% of the population have some form of health insurance. While government share in healthcare spending remains around 1.2% of GDP, it is encouraging to note that private sector has been pitching in with a healthy 3.8% of GDP as investment in healthcare. There is a need for incentivising higher private investments towards affordable healthcare and also synergizing the efforts of the government and private health care sector to achieve the goal of UHC.

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