Health experts hope to ready roadmap to India’s universal health cover by August 15, 2022

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It  intends to work with citizens, especially those who work in the health system apart from the Indian government.In what is arguably a first-of-its-kind exercise, a new initiative that aims to lay out the roadmap to achieving universal health coverage for the people of India was digitally launched on Friday, December 11th.

Called the Lancet Citizens’ Commission (Lancet is a leading international medical journal), it is driven by an intent to reimagine India’s health system and one that is guided by citizen feedback.

The commission eventually aims to make recommendations. To do this, it  intends to work with citizens, especially those who work in the health system apart from the Indian government. According to a note by Lancet: “We aim to publish our Commissions report by August 15, 2022, when India will have completed its 75th year as an independent nation.”

According to Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, executive chairperson, Biocon and a co-chair in the commission, “We believe this needs to start by asking the right questions on key areas of governance, finance, human resources, technology and citizens’ engagement.” The commissioners, she says, “will apply themselves through these five work streams each of which will ask defining questions that can hopefully solve many of current day conundrums in healthcare delivery.” The Commission, she adds, also intends “to engage closely with the government’s own initiatives in delivering Universal Healthcare through Ayushman Bharat and its National Digital Health Mission amongst others.” To her, “citizens’ engagement is at the heart of all these efforts and will serve as a fulcrum of the work streams to ensure that we have asked the right questions across all socio-economic strata so that we align on the right path to bring out a credible commission at the end of the process.”

The commission has marquee names backing it. Other than Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw it has three other co-chairs :  Professor Tarun Khanna from the Harvard Business School and the director at the Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute, Harvard University, Professor Vikram Patel from Harvard Medical School and also the co-founder of Sangath apart from Gagandeep Kang. Scientist and professor in the department of Gastrointestinal Sciences at the Christian Medical College, Vellore. The commission also has 13 commissioners and include Dr Devi Shetty, chairman Narayana Health, K Sujatha Rao, the former secretary of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, Nachiket Mor, the visiting Scientist at The Banyan Academy of Leadership in Mental Health and one who is known for his contribution in the banking sector, specially in microfinance.

The commission is backed by private donors and philanthropists. Funders who have committed to support this Commission so far include the Azim Premji Foundation, Rohini Nilekani Philanthropies, Vikram Kirloskar, and The Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute, Harvard University.

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