Politics · Public health

Without Universal Health Coverage, World Health Day means Little to Most of India

World Health Day 2016: one can’t lose the opportunity to remind India’s policymakers of the single most important need of the country’s citizens and health system – Universal Health Coverage. This article appeared in Scroll on April 7 2016.

Below is an excerpt:

The more one thinks of it, the more it’s clear how painful and shameful the out-of-pocket expenditure situation in our country is. While this was a hypothetical example, journalist P Sainath wrote about the grim real lives of Maharashtra farmers and their out-of-pocket expenses woes 11 years ago, in a report titled: Health as someone else’s wealth. Today on World Health Day, in the 69th year of our Independence, we need to wake up to the persistent presence of this national shame, and realise the urgent need for universal health coverage.

According to the World Health Organisation, universal health coverage is when “all people obtain the health services they need without suffering financial hardship when paying for them”. Our national and state governments need to shun the usual political lip service and implement such coverage. In fact India did have a vision of universal health coverage in the past (with its extensive network of subsidised government health centres), but lost track somewhere.

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