Transitioning from MDGs to SDGs – Policy Dialogue in Health Sector in Odisha

Health being the corner stone of economic growth of the nation, Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) related to health assumes profound importance. However, India’s progress in health related MDGs has been mixed with a greater reduction in child mortality, with inadequate progress in the maternal health. Also, the progress in halting and reversing the spread of HIV-AIDS was appreciative but unsuccessful in controlling malaria and other major diseases. Across states the progress is uneven. There are pockets within states where the inequality across the social groups is quite high.

In Odisha, added to the existing burden of maternal and child health problems the under-resourced public health system with inadequate infrastructure including human resources and limited multi-sectorial initiatives compound these issues further. Though the share of public expenditure in Odisha has increased after introduction of National Health Mission, it is not adequate to reduce the out of pocket expenditure (OOP). As per a recent assessment, Odisha faces worst shortage of doctors in public health facilities with around 30% of doctors’ posts vacant at various levels and similar is the case with specialist doctors. However, health staff such as nurses and midwives/population ratio is slightly better than that of the physicians but not adequate.

In this context, the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) agenda which seeks to ensure universal health coverage, including financial risk protection and access to quality essential health-care services to all, has potential to improve the states’ unfinished health agenda. Unlike MDGs, the SDGs will apply a different set of ideologies as well as strategies to address the health challenges. The SDGs philosophy moves in the lines of rights-based approach and no longer an issue of charity but one of justice.

However, the preparedness of the state in terms of policy actions to achieve these objectives needs to be thoroughly delineated setting verifiable indicators. Along with this, the current policy and programme deficits must be identified and make concrete policy actions drawing experiences from best practices to strengthen the health care system in the state. Across states innovations abound in health, many of which are cost effective and can be replicated.

Given the scenario, the session on ‘Health’ in the Odisha Development Conclave-2016 would focus on some of the above mentioned key issues.

Focus Areas:

  • Resource allocation in health
  • Governance and Human Resources for Health
  • Public Health and Community Outreach
  • Sharing of good practices and the opportunity to scale up