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India’s President calls for making universal healthcare a reality

A few weeks after President Pranab Mukherjee called for a ‘second freedom struggle’ to eradicate hunger, disease and poverty, healthcare took center stage once again his speech at a conference organized by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).

The President called upon multiple stakeholders in the health sector to make universal healthcare a reality. The President laid special emphasis on increasing human resources, especially in rural areas, and stressed the importance of technology-based innovations such as telemedicine to broaden the reach of healthcare.

A paper released at the conference by FICCI and Ernst and Young titled ‘Universal health cover for India: demystifying financing needs’ estimates that expenditure on the programme would require 5.5 to 6 percent of India’s GDP and at least a 10 year time to implement the programme. However, India’s current spending on health as a percentage of GDP currently stands at only 2.4 percent. This suggests that the dream of universal health care has a long way to go yet before becoming reality.

Read more on the conference and the President’s address in The Hindu.

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