Intended for healthcare professionals


Will India deliver on universal health coverage?

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 18 September 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f5621
  1. Antony Kollannur, president
  1. 1Public Health Resource Network, Kochi, Kerala 682013, India
  1. krantony53{at}

The only serious barrier is a lack of political will to strengthen the public health system and increase budget allocation

Committed to the global goal of “Health for all as a human right,” India could possibly achieve universal health coverage by 2020. Such a goal is crucial for sustainable development and for reducing poverty and social inequality.1 The National Rural Health Mission’s current strategies are broadly right and have already improved health outcomes and strengthened the public health system.

Many steps have been taken towards providing universal health coverage. At the village level, schemes to increase community engagement have included community health volunteers and village health and sanitation committees. Hospitals have developed patient welfare committees and other innovations include the mother and newborn survival scheme, health insurance for the poor, free generic drug supply scheme, and toll-free ambulance systems.

The deployment of nearly 900 000 community health volunteers in the countryside,2 micro-planning of services, and the provision of mobile clinics and outreach sessions on health and nutrition are fast becoming the embodiment of India’s intention to provide equitable primary healthcare to all. The integration of multiple vertical programmes under the auspices of the National Rural Health Mission has improved efficiency and health outcomes.

India should be able to afford …

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