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Reimagining India’s Health System – The Lancet Citizens’ Commission launched

Indian Doctor standing with stethoscope on India flag background. National healthcare system concept, medical theme. Image credit: Sezer özger / 123rf
Image credit: Sezer özger / 123rf

Reimagining India’s Health System – The Lancet Citizens’ Commission launched

  • Launch of initiative to develop a citizens’ roadmap to achieving universal health coverage
  • Commission will be the first participatory, country-wide report of its scale to be developed 

New Delhi, December 11, 2020: India’s efforts to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC) will now be catalysed by the voices of its citizens and prominent stakeholders from across diverse sectors of India’s health system with the launch of The Lancet Citizens’ Commission – ‘Reimagining India’s Health System’.  The work of the Commission will begin today, with an aim to publish a final report of its findings and recommendations in the next two years. 

Formulated in association with the world leading international medical journal, The Lancet and The Lakshmi Mittal And Family South Asia Institute, Harvard University, the Commission’s primary mission will be to lay out the path to guarantee universal access to quality and affordable health care services to every Indian. The Commission will be led by four distinguished health and business leaders (co-chairs, mentioned alongside), who have brought together thirteen experts from academia, the scientific community, civil society, and private healthcare to  serve with them on the Commission (full list at the end).* 

Commenting on the Commission’s vision, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Executive Chairperson, Biocon saidThis is a first of its kind consultative and participatory initiative that aims to chart socio-economic parity through universal health equity. It seeks to engage citizens from across the country and put them at the heart of the efforts to transform India’s health system and make universal health care a reality in this country. Our intent is to include Indians from all socio-economic strata in this crucial discussion so that their experiences and views can be integrated in the recommendations, thus ensuring a credible and comprehensive report at the end of the process.” 

The Commission was initiated in the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has laid bare the need for a resilient health system that offers comprehensive, accountable, accessible, inclusive, and affordable quality health care to all citizens. What sets this endeavour apart is its commitment to go beyond traditional boundaries of expertise to actively engage those whose voices have rarely been heard in previous reports: those who deliver healthcare and those who receive it. 

Over the coming year, the Commission will gather insights from across India through grassroots surveys, public consultations, and online discussions on the issue of universal health coverage. It will also build partnerships and work closely with academic institutions, civil society and other stakeholders to catalyse dialogue and knowledge sharing across fields. In particular, it will continue to engage with the government, which it sees as a critically important steward to realizing universal health coverage.  Insights will be shared on the Commission’s website (, as well as on its social media handles. The final report will be submitted for peer review and publication in The Lancet.

Highlighting what sets this Commission apart from previous efforts, Gagandeep Kang, Professor, Christian Medical College, Vellore, said, “To realise a resilient health system where access to healthcare is not a luxury and where the marginalised remain elusive, all stakeholders including the citizenry need to work along with the government and deliberate on solutions for effective implementation of the universal health coverage.”

Previous Lancet Commissions have been enormously influential in shaping global policy and paving the way for medical reforms and global health discussions around the world. Vikram Patel, Professor, Harvard Medical School and Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and co-founder of the Indian NGO Sangath, further emphasized the potential of this Commission’s impact in current times, “The pandemic offers a historic opportunity to realize the country’s aspirations to achieve universal health coverage and we hope to publish our findings in time of the landmark of India’s attainment of 75 years of freedom on August 15th, 2022.” 

The sentiment was echoed by co-chair Tarun Khanna, Professor, Harvard Business School and Director, The Lakshmi Mittal And Family South Asia Institute, who also commented on the critical role of healthcare for India’s wider ambitions: “India’s progression towards a greater economic prowess needs to be empowered by its healthy citizenry.” 

Pamela Das, Senior Executive Editor, The Lancet adds: “The first Lancet India Series published in 2011 laid out a bold roadmap for UHC. This new Commission is an opportunity to renew and reconfigure that vision, and put the citizens of India at the heart of the process with a view to transform policy in India. We look forward to working on this important endeavour with our Indian colleagues.”

Five workstreams of the Commission

Citizens’ Engagement 

The foundation of the Commission relies on gathering insights into the expectations and experiences of healthcare from healthcare providers, including frontline workers and citizens of diverse social groups in our country across gender and age.


Address challenges related to the sources and utilization of health expenditures, in order to maximise financial risk protection and to ensure an effective, equitable, reliable, and responsive health system for all.


Propose a governance framework characterised by a robust regulation architecture, coordination across levels of government, and increased accountability with the goal of high quality healthcare for all citizens.

Human Resources

Enable effective human resources planning and policy to address shortages and inequitable distribution, enhance skill development, improve motivation and working conditions, and expand access to a plurality of health care services. 


Harness a variety of technologies to improve health outcomes, expand access to healthcare, empower patients and usher patient-focused regulation.


Note to Editors:

The Lancet Citizens’ Commission on Reimagining India’s Health System is an ambitious, cross-sectoral endeavour to lay out the roadmap to achieving universal health coverage (UHC) for the people of India. The Commission will build on previous work by many groups, including the 2011 Lancet Series India: towards Universal Health Coverage. Lancet Commissions involve a partnership between The Lancet medical journal and academic leaders to identify the most pressing issues in science, medicine, and global health with the aim of producing recommendations to change public policy or improve practice. Projects usually last 2–3 years, and author groups will represent a broad range of expertise. All Lancet Commissions are academic publications and are subject to rigorous peer review. For previous Commissions, please see: 

Please refer to attached the Comment, written by the Commission co-chairs and published in The Lancet, for more details of the Commission’s vision, objectives and guiding principles.


Tarun Khanna, Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School; Director, The Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute, Harvard University

Vikram Patel, The Pershing Square Professor of Global Health, Harvard Medical School; Professor, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health; Co-founder, Sangath

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Executive Chairperson, Biocon Ltd

Gagandeep Kang, Clinician Scientist and Professor in the Department of Gastrointestinal Sciences, Christian Medical College

*List of Commissioners

Yamini Aiyar, President and Chief Executive, Centre for Policy Research

Mirai Chatterjee, Director, Social Security Team, Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA)

Armida Fernandez, Retired Professor, Neonatology and Dean, Lokmanya Tilak Municipal Medical Hospital and College, Mumbai; Founder Trustee, SNEHA

Yogesh Jain, Public Health Physician, Chhattisgarh

Nachiket Mor, Visiting Scientist, The Banyan Academy of Leadership in Mental Health

Poonam Muttreja, Executive Director, Population Foundation of India

Bhushan Patwardhan, Distinguished Professor, Interdisciplinary School of Health Sciences, Savitribai Phule Pune University; Vice Chairman, University Grants Commission; Chairman Additional Charge, Indian Council of Social Science Research, New Delhi

  1. Sujatha Rao, Former Secretary of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India
  2. Srinath Reddy, President, Public Health Foundation of India

Sharad Sharma, Co-founder, iSPIRT Foundation

Devi Shetty, Chairman, Narayana Hrudayalaya Limited

S.V. Subramanian, Professor of Population Health and Geography, Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies and Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Rajani Ved, Former Executive Director, National Health Systems Resource Centre

For more details, visit:


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For media queries, write to:

Pragati Kandpal |


The Lancet

The Lakshmi Mittal South Asia Institute, Harvard University

Communication partner


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