India’s leadership role in promoting the global debate on the need for urgent national action for the promotion of mental health was acknowledged by the World Health Organization at the ongoing 65th World Health Assembly. An important resolution calling on Member-states and the WHO to develop an action plan was moved by India and received warm support before being approved. The Government of India has been separately working on strengthening interventions in the 12th Plan for the care of persons with mental illness, including emphasis on family and community care and training of health and community workers, and short and long stay homes. Government has begun a major exercise to develop a mental health policy for the country and also expects to shortly introduce new legislation to replace the Mental Health Act, 1987, to bring India into conformity with international commitments to protect the rights of persons with mental illness.

A National Health Policy was last formulated in 1983, and since then there have been marked changes in the determinant factors relating to the health sector. Some of the policy initiatives outlined in the NHP-1983 have yielded results, while, in several other areas, the outcome has not been as expected.

The NHP-1983 gave a general exposition of the policies which required recommendation in the circumstances then prevailing in the health sector. The noteworthy initiatives under that policy were:-

  • A phased, time-bound programme for setting up a well-dispersed network of comprehensive primary health care services, linked with extension and health education, designed in the context of the ground reality that elementary health problems can be resolved by the people themselves;
  • Intermediation through ‘Health volunteers’ having appropriate knowledge, simple skills and requisite technologies;
  • Establishment of a well worked out referral system to ensure that patient load at the higher levels of the hierarchy is not needlessly burdened by those who can be treated at the decentralized level;
  • An integrated net-work of evenly spread specialty and super- specialty services; encouragement of such facilities through private investments for patients who can pay, so that the draw on the Government’s facilities is limited to those entitled to free use.

Programmes and Policy measures for Child welfare


Children constitute principle assets of any country.  Children’s development is very

important for the overall development of society and the best way to develop national human resources is to take care of children.  India has the largest child population in the world.  All out efforts are being made by the Government for the development and welfare of children.   A number of policy initiatives have been taken for this purpose. 

Policy Initiatives

The National Policy for children lays down that the State shall provide adequate services towards children, both before and after birth and during the growing stages for their full physical, mental and social development.  The measures suggested include amongst others, a comprehensive health programme, supplementary nutrition for mothers and children, free and compulsory education for all children up to the age of 14 years, promotion of physical education and recreational activities, special consideration for children of weaker sections including SCs and STs and prevention of exploitation of children, etc.

      The Government of India has also adopted the National Charter for Children, which has been prepared after obtaining the views/comments and suggestions of the State governments/UT Administrations, concerned Ministries and Departments and experts in the field.  The National Charter is a statement of intent embodying the Government’s agenda for children.  The document emphasizes Government of India’s commitment to children’s rights to survival, health and nutrition, standard of living, play and leisure, early childhood care, education, protection or the girl child, empowering adolescents, equality, life and liberty, name and nationality, freedom of expression, freedom of association and peaceful assembly, the right to a family and the right to be protected from economic exploitation and all forms of abuse.  The document also provides for protection of children in difficult circumstances, children with disabilities, children from marginalized and disadvantaged communities, and child victims.  The document while stipulating the duties of the State and the Community towards children also emphasizes the duties of children towards family, society and the Nation.  The National Charter for Children was notified in the Gazette of India on 9th February, 2004.

      India has also acceded to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to reiterate its commitment to the cause of children.  The objective of the Convention is to give every child the right to survival and development in a healthy and congenial environment.

      India is also party to the Millennium Development Goals and the SAARC Conventions on Child Welfare and Combating Trafficking of Women and Children is SAARC Region.

      Ministry of Women and Child Development has prepared a National Plan of Action for Children 2005 after harmonizing the goals for children set in the UN General Assembly Special Session on Children held in 2002 and the monitorable targets set in the Tenth Five Year Plan and goals for children in related Ministries/ Departments.  The Action Plan has been prepared in consultation with concerned Ministries and Departments, States/UT Governments, non-Governmental organizations and experts.  The National Plan of Action includes goals, objectives, strategies and activities for improving nutritional status of children, reducing IMR and MMR, increasing enrolment ratio and reducing dropout rates, universalisation of primary education, increasing coverage for immunization etc..


Part II coming soon

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