Intended for healthcare professionals


Can India pull off its ambitious National Health Mission?

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 05 April 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f2134
  1. Jeetha D’Silva, freelance journalist, Mumbai
  1. j.dsilva{at}

India’s latest health mission, which it hopes will herald universal healthcare, builds on the success of its rural mission. But will it have the resources to do the job, asks Jeetha D’Silva

India’s creation of a National Health Mission seems to show that the government is finally recognising the importance of the health of its 1.2 billion citizens. The mission could substantially improve healthcare infrastructure and service delivery throughout the country, especially in urban areas, say public health doctors.

This new overarching programme will bring together the proposed National Urban Health Mission and the existing National Rural Health Mission. “The genesis of the National Health Mission goes back to the agenda of providing a potential platform for equitable, universal health coverage which is inclusive to every citizen of the country, regardless of economic status,” Priya Balasubramaniam, director of Universal Health Coverage for India Initiative at the Public Health Foundation of India, a public-private initiative based in New Delhi, told the BMJ.

India has an acute need for healthcare reform. Despite its growing economic clout and technological advances, the country lags behind much of the developing world on key health parameters. For instance, infant mortality is 48 per 1000 live births: Sri Lanka’s is 12, and Nepal’s is 41. Mortality in children under 5 years is 63 per 1000 in India: the global average is 57, in Sri Lanka it is 17, and in Nepal it is 50. India’s burden of communicable and non-communicable disease is …

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