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National standards of care quality would help India enable health coverage for all

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: (Published 01 May 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g3056
  1. Anju Aggarwal, consultant
  1. 1ACCESS Health International, Hyderabad, India
  1. anju.aggarwal{at}

The next central government should better coordinate existing state led schemes and set national care standards to encourage universal healthcare coverage, writes Anju Aggarwal

With the 2014 elections now under way, the national parties have issued manifestos outlining their visions for the future of health in India.1 Commentators have offered their own recommendations for how the next Indian government can improve health, highlighting the need for greater accountability and better quality of care, among other suggestions.2 3

The details of each vision vary, but the manifestos and many commentators share one key idea—the essential role of universal health coverage. There is a clear path to improve health for the next central government that is consistent among the different party platforms and points of view: support promising state led health initiatives by better coordinating policies and introducing clear national standards for care.

I have studied Indian healthcare policy and its effect on service delivery and quality. Successful implementation of policies often depends on states’ ability to manage programmes. By coordinating policies and providing strong regulatory oversight, central government can help states to implement and integrate healthcare financing and delivery initiatives effectively and efficiently. …

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