Intended for healthcare professionals


Universal health coverage for India

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 28 March 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e2247
  1. Ravi Narayan, community health adviser1,
  2. Thelma Narayan, coordinator2
  1. 1Society for Community Health, Awareness, Research, and Action, Bangalore, 560 034, India
  2. 2Centre for Public Health and Equity, Koramangala, Bangalore, India
  1. chcravi{at}

Now is the time to move beyond rhetoric and get the action right

In 1946 the Health Survey and Development Committee for India recommended a health service that was “as close to the people as possible . . . with no individual failing to secure adequate care because of inability to pay.”1 Commitments were made to achieve this vision in 25 years, by 1971, but these are yet to be realised. A high level expert group on universal health coverage was instituted by the Indian Planning Commission in 2010 to revisit this ethical imperative. Its mandate was to create: a blueprint for human resources in health; physical and financial norms to ensure quality, universal reach, and access; crucial management reforms; pathways for constructive participation of communities and the private sector; systems to access essential drugs, vaccines, and medical technology; and a framework for health financing and financial protection. The committee also decided to examine the social determinants of health.2 Recently, after a year of gathering evidence and consultation that reviewed policy, process, and the complex nature of the Health for All challenge, the group has presented its findings and recommendations, all of which are highly commendable.2

The four elements that the expert group recommended should underpin the core principles of an Indian healthcare …

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