India’s Primary Health Care Needs Quick Reform
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Early last year, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced the government would work towards providing Universal Health Coverage (UHC) for all. As intents go, it is as noble as it gets. This, because the operative word here is ‘universal’. Much like the Indian Constitution promises every citizen justice, liberty, equality and fraternity, the PM proposed health care be added, as a “fundamental right”, whether you’re above the poverty line or below it.
Soon after the announcement, at a high level ministerial meeting in Delhi almost every minister pledged to work together. In the months that followed, two ambitious programmes were announced: National Urban Health Mission (NUHM) and Free Essential Medicines. When implemented, it would cost the country Rs 22,000 crore and Rs 28,560 crore, respectively. But the agreement had irony written all over it.
On December 27 last year, representatives of various states fought fiercely over how the proposed food security bill ought to be financed. But when it came to the UHC, there seemed near consensus. For various reasons though, the idea didn’t take off.
- Health Care