In Kerala, the health policy introduced by the state government has envisaged numerous instrumental changes in the health sector. The health policy emphasizes the necessity to energize public sector and prepares a roadmap for both short-term and long-term projects and programmes. To ensure quality life expectancy for the public, the projects have been planned to be implemented in the health sector over the next 20 years.

Some of the key proposals in the health policy are the division of health department into three wings – public health, clinical services and medical education. Functional autonomy to medical colleges, a medical recruitment board responsible for appointments to the health institutions without depending on the Public Service Commission and strict implementation of a three-tier referral system form the major proposals of this health policy.

According to the policy, short-term goals should be achieved by 2020. Approximately 80% of the population should get benefits of various government schemes for free medical aid and treatment by 2020. The health policy approved by the state cabinet has been sent for the governor's approval. The policy should be implemented without delay, the government said.

The objective of the health policy is to accommodate the increasing percentage of people availing health care from government hospitals in 2020 from 34% to 50%. Nearly 5% of the state GDP (Gross Domestic Product) should be raised by the center and state government together in the next few years to meet expenditure in the health sector.

Professor Uday Shankar Mishra, from Centre for Development Studies, Thiruvananthapuram, said, "As of now, the state allocation for the health sector comes to roughly 2.6% of state GDP. But, a major chunk of it is being used for paying salary. The expenditure should be hiked to at least 5% to meet the growing needs for health infrastructure."

The increased hospital bills are due to diagnostic components, he added. In Kerala, chronic and non-communicable diseases require continued diagnostics, since they are more predominant in the area. Hence, the government should procure more equipment to manage the diseases. All publicly funded insurance schemes should be used in a planned manner, the health policy suggests.

Insurance based solutions are inherently expensive, and eventually, the public funding of health should be tax-based. According to experts, the effective implementation of division of health sector into three wings would achieve the desired outcomes.

Dr. Vijayakumar from Thiruvananthapuram Medical College reported that public health was being given lower importance, which limited the preventive measures. Clinical services should focus on strengthening taluk, district, and general hospitals.

"It is high time we enforce a strict protocol for referring patients," Vijayakumar stated.