National Policy for Rare Diseases, 2021
- Rare diseases are broadly defined as diseases that infrequently occur in a population, and three markers are used — the total number of people with the disease, its prevalence, and the availability/non-availability of treatment options.
- WHO defines rare disease as having a frequency of less than 6.5-10 per 10,000 people.
- As per an estimate, there are 7,000 known rare diseases with an estimated 300 million patients in the world; 70 million are in India.
- According to the Organization for Rare Diseases India, these include inherited cancers, autoimmune disorders, congenital malformations, Hirschsprung’s disease, Gaucher disease, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophies and Lysosomal Storage Disorders (LSDs).
- There are fundamental challenges in the research and development for the majority of rare diseases as relatively little is known about the pathophysiology or the natural history of these diseases particularly in the Indian context.
- Rare diseases are also difficult to research upon as the patients pool is very small and it often results in inadequate clinical experience.
- Availability and accessibility to medicines are also important to reduce morbidity and mortality associated with rare disease.
- Despite progress in recent years, there is a need to augment effective and safe treatment for rare diseases.
- The cost of treatment of rare diseases is prohibitively expensive.
- The Rare Diseases Policy aims to lower the high cost of treatment for rare diseases with increased focus on indigenous research with the help of a National Consortium to be set up with Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare as convenor.
- Increased focus of research and development and local production of medicines will lower the cost of treatment for rare diseases.
- The policy also envisage creation of a national hospital based registry of rare diseases so that adequate data is available for definition of rare diseases and for research and development related to rare diseases within the country.
- The Policy also focuses on early screening and prevention through primary and secondary health care infrastructure such as Health and Wellness Centres and District Early Intervention Centres (DEICs) and through counselling for the high-risk parents.
- Screening will also be supported by Nidan Kendras set up by Department of Biotechnology.
- Policy also aims to strengthen tertiary health care facilities for prevention and treatment of rare diseases through designating 8 health facilities as Centre of Excellence and these CoEs will also be provided one-time financial support of up to Rs 5 crores for upgradation of diagnostics facilities.
A provision for financial support up to Rs. 20 lakhs under the Umbrella Scheme of Rastriya Arogya Nidhi is proposed for treatment, of those rare diseases that require a one-time treatment (diseases listed under Group 1 in the rare disease policy).
- Beneficiaries for such financial assistance would not be limited to BPL families, but the benefit will be extended to about 40% of the population, who are eligible under Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana.
- Besides, the Policy also envisages a crowd funding mechanism in which corporates and individuals will be encouraged to extend financial support through a robust IT platform for treatment of rare diseases.
- It is binding on a welfare state to take care of every single citizen.
- Securing the wellbeing of every one.
- The recent notification of the National Policy for Rare Diseases 2021.
- It offers financial support for one-time treatment of up to ₹20 lakh,
- introduces a crowdfunding mechanism,
- Creates a registry of rare diseases, and provides for early detection.