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India must raise the status of primary care

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 14 May 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f2986
  1. Clare Gerada, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners
  1. 1London

Evidence shows that India must prioritise general practice to achieve universal health coverage. But the specialty’s status needs a boost, writes UK GP supremo Clare Gerada after a recent visit

India is embarking on an auspicious journey, a journey with profound consequences at its heart—that is, universal health coverage with primary care that includes general practitioners, community nurses, and community workers.

As part of the UK Royal College of General Practitioners’ commitment to promoting primary care, I attended two recent conferences on the specialty. The first was in Patna, capital of Bihar—organised by Lal Mandal, a Brighton based general practitioner, in partnership with the Bihar state health minister, Patna Medical School, and the Royal College of General Practitioners. The second was in Delhi, the first national conference on family medicine and primary care—organised by Raman Kumar, president of the Academy of Family Physicians of India.

Both conferences were well attended by the highest officials in health and policy. The minister of health for Bihar attended for the full seven hours and also hosted a delegation at his home in the evening. The commitment for a change in organisation and need for investment in primary care was obvious, and speaker after speaker spoke of this.

Nationally, …

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