Views from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Call for universal healthcare in India in 2020

Vikram Patel led the call for a truly universal healthcare system in India by 2020, at the UK launch of an important new series on health in India of which he was lead Editor. 

At a time when India is experiencing record growth, its health care and public health systems are completely inadequate to address the needs of its population. In a series of seven Lancet papers, Professor Patel and a number of other experts detailed the problems faced by India’s health care system and called on the country to establish a truly universal health care system by 2020, with a detailed plan for the future included as a call to action in the final paper. The full series papers can be found at:

In the final paper, all the series authors combine to call on India to create an integrated national health system by 2020, with three key goals: ensuring the reach and quality of health services to all Indians; reducing the financial burden of healthcare on individuals; and empowering people to take care of their health. They also call for an increase in public spending on health to 6% of GDP and a reduction of the proportion of out-of-pocket spending to 20% of the total health expenditure by 2020.

The Editors comment: ‘The final shape of a new and just healthcare system in a country that is characterised by pluralism and a vibrant civil society will require much wider consultation and consensus building than we have been able to achieve. We are aware that the goals we set out are ambitious and the challenges huge, but we believe that 21st century India can channel political commitment and resources to help realise the nation’s founding vision of health for all. The time to act has come’.

Their full comment can be found at

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