In Short

The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has launched a multi-pronged strategy to enhance public healthcare through the National Health Mission (NHM). Key initiatives include the revised Indian Public Health Standards (IPHS) 2022 for consistent care and the National Quality Assurance Standards (NQAS) to ensure high-quality services. These efforts aim to improve health outcomes, reduce preventable diseases, and restore public trust in the healthcare system.

In robust effort to tackle the persistent challenges of underutilisation and missed diagnoses in public healthcare, the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW) has adopted a comprehensive strategy to prioritise and address these issues. The National Health Mission (NHM), a significant initiative aimed at achieving universal access to comprehensive healthcare, continues to make strides in strengthening healthcare infrastructure, enhancing human resources, and ensuring the availability of essential medical supplies, with a primary focus on tribal and underserved areas.

The NHM has played a crucial role in advancing key health indicators in India, particularly those related to population stabilisation, maternal, infant, and child health, as well as communicable diseases. The nation has seen a remarkable decline in maternal, infant, and under-five mortality rates, surpassing global averages. Despite these improvements, the healthcare system faces ongoing challenges from a growing population, emerging diseases, variability in care, and quality of services.

To combat underutilisation, inappropriate treatments, and missed diagnoses, the Ministry has rolled out revised Indian Public Health Standards (IPHS) 2022. These standards offer a comprehensive framework for upgrading healthcare delivery components across public health facilities. By specifying minimum and desirable services for each level of care, the IPHS aims to ensure consistent and reliable healthcare delivery, with standards covering infrastructure, equipment, drugs, diagnostics, and human resources.

Central to this initiative is the National Quality Assurance Standards (NQAS) programme, designed to ensure that public healthcare services are safe, patient-centric, and of high quality. By addressing gaps in understanding, measuring, and improving service quality, NQAS aims to enhance patient outcomes, safety, and satisfaction, ultimately fostering greater trust in public healthcare facilities.

Ensuring quality healthcare in public facilities is vital for community health, patient satisfaction, and cost reduction. Standardised services increase public trust, as evidenced by rising patient footfalls and improved stakeholder relationships. Additionally, NQAS compliance ensures facilities meet regulatory requirements, including fire safety, and promotes health equity by delivering equitable care to all patients, regardless of their background.

In light of lessons learned from the recent pandemic, the Pradhan Mantri Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission (PM-ABHIM) focuses on infrastructure and surveillance, with Integrated Public Health Labs (IPHL) playing a key role. These labs aim to provide rapid, reliable, and accurate test results, establishing effective diagnosis and surveillance linkages at district and sub-district levels, thus contributing to a resilient health system.

The IPHS guidelines mark a significant transformation in India’s healthcare landscape, setting uniform standards to make healthcare more accessible, affordable, and dignified, particularly for vulnerable populations. Alongside NQAS, these initiatives are poised to improve health outcomes, reduce preventable diseases, and restore public trust in the healthcare system.

Through these concerted efforts, the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare is making significant strides towards a future where healthcare facilities operate with defined specifications, delivering safe, effective, and patient-centred care. These initiatives promise a healthier population, reduced disease burden, and a stronger reliance on government healthcare services.

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