The National Health Policy 2017 denotes an important change from a very selective to a comprehensive primary health care package which includes care for major NCDs [non-communicable diseases], mental health, geriatric health care, palliative care and rehabilitative care services.
It seeks to address relevant issues through :
1. It seeks to establish regular tracking of disability adjusted life years (DALY) Index as a measure of burden of disease and its major categories trends by 2022.
2. Geriatric health care and care for major NCDs is listed as a focus area in the primary healthcare packages.The policy recognizes the growing need for
palliative and rehabilitative care for all geriatric illnesses and advocates the continuity of care across all levels
3. In order to provide access and financial protection at secondary and tertiary care levels, the policy proposes free drugs, free diagnostics and free emergency care services in all public hospitals.
4. The policy aspires to provide at the district level most of the secondary care which is currently provided at a medical college hospital. This is important as majority of senior citizens reside in rural areas.
5. The policy also aims to reduce premature mortality from cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes or chronic respiratory diseases by 25% by 2025
Currently schemes such as Scheme of Integrated Programme for Older Persons (IPOP) and National Programme for the Health Care for the Elderly (NPHCE) are providing focused help to senior citizens in India. With the projections for the elderly populations showing a climb from 8% in 2010 to 19% in 2050, it is imperative that the centre review the current National Policy on Older Persons, 1999 and the releases new National Policy for Senior Citizens(which is under consideration) which will go a long way in specifically addressing their needs.
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