Tamil Nadu is ranked among the high-performing States in India, in the area of human development. The State is noted for its low mortality rates and effective healthcare services. The State has a long track record of innovations in the health sector. It has pioneered many new approaches to enhance effective access to quality health care at low financial costs. Over the last few decades, healthcare in the state of Tamil Nadu has improved significantly, with more people having increased access to medical care. There is a strong commitment to high performance in the health sector.
Despite the speedy progress and development, the State continues to face challenges in the healthcare sector that need to be dealt with in a phased and systematic manner. The broad areas that need addressing are
- Coping with non-communicable diseases (NCD)
- Providing the highest quality of healthcare
- Resolving equity-related issues
- Having an effective health financing system
Health Policy of 2003
To tackle these challenges, the Government of Tamil Nadu developed a Health Policy in 2003. The Health Policy aims to address key health challenges, combat non-communicable diseases and accidents, strengthen management of health systems and increase effectiveness of public sector healthcare services. The policy focusses on improving the health status of the general population, with special emphasis on low-income, disadvantaged and tribal communities, over the next two decades.
The Tamil Nadu Health Systems Project
The Tamil Nadu Health Systems Project (TNHSP), implemented by the Health and Family Welfare Department (Government of Tamilnadu), lends its support to the Health Policy of 2003 and focusses on improving the health status of people belonging to the lower socio-economic strata. New approaches to address non-communicable diseases, addressing the health needs of the tribals and partnerships with the NGOs form the core of this project. The Tamil Nadu Health Systems Project will assist in fulfilling the aims of the Health Policy through the following interventions
- Increased access of health services for poor, disadvantaged, and tribal groups
- Developing effective interventions to address key health challenges
- Improving health outcomes and quality of service by strengthening management of the public sector health systems and by involving the non governmental sector
- Increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of the public sector hospital services at the district and sub-district levels
The TNHSP is structured on the following themes:
- Child health
- Indigenous peoples
- Health system performance
- Population and reproductive health
- Injuries and non-communicable diseases
The World Bank and TNHSP
In 2005, the World Bank approved the Tamil Nadu Health Systems Project for a total cost of Rs. 597.15 crores. The World Bank’s involvement in the project has been extremely advantageous. It has helped in introducing new approaches in the way the health sector functions in the State. While the health system in Tamil Nadu has been fairly effective in providing basic health needs to its people, it is expected that the goals sought in the project will demonstrate the impact of cutting-edge reforms.
Among other goals, the TNHSP addresses two MIllenium Development Goals (MDG), namely reducing child mortality and improving maternal health.