Strong political will, community participation
and intersectoral coordination are the basic principles on which primary health care is based. A direct result of this in
India was that since the Alma Ata Declaration of 1978 occurred during the Fifth Five Year Plan (1974-79),
a clamour was raised within medical circles and outside for the Union Government to declare a National Health Policy (NHP).
The Indian Medical Association (IMA) at its central meeting had already strongly voiced this an year before the Alma Ata Conference,
initiating a countrywide movement through debates, seminars etc. Leaders of all political parties took part in a national
debate held at IMA headquarters, New Delhi, demanding an early declaration of a National Health Policy (Dutta, 1988). Close
on the heels of this came the Alma Ata Declaration urging every country to have a declared NHP. The Indian Government then
set working and announced its first NHP in 1982 which was formally approved by the Parliament in December 1983.
Now comes the sad part of this story.
Strangely, when the bill was tabled there was hardly any discussion in both the houses. This showed lack of interest and/or
poor awareness of something that should have been immediately perceived as of vital importance to the nation. One knows how
non-enthusiasm amongst legislators guarantees non-functioning of the best of policies. The draft policy was hardly debated
even on the floor of the state legislatures. The premier all India body of medical practitioners, the Indian Medical Association,
was never consulted at the formulation stage and therefore could put forward criticisms only at the final stage, which, in
an already callous atmosphere, proved of little avail.
Mens Sana Monographs [MSM]: A Mens Sana Research Foundation Publication