HENI Equilogue: Understanding the gaps in the current approach to ensuring UHC in India

Understanding gaps ensuring UHC in India

Universal Health Coverage is intended to “leave no one behind”, and yet often falls far short of this goal, even in the best of circumstances and when intentions are earnest. The Health Equity Network India (HENI) secretariat co-hosted at The George Institute for Global Health, India and The Institute of Public Health, Bengaluru is organising the 21st Equilogue underlining the theme “Understanding the gaps in the current approach to ensuring UHC in India”. This panel in this equilogue will focus on recent research on the reach, acceptability, and impact of UHC schemes on access to healthcare for socially excluded communities (Indigenous communities and older widows living alone) in the South Indian state of Kerala. Drawing on concrete examples, the speakers will highlight the limitations of relying on health insurance and the presence of health facilities alone to achieve UHC in India.

Mark your calendars for 31st March 2023 | Friday | 1500-1630 IST

Format of the session: The session will open with comments from The George Institute's Early Career Thought Leader Gloria Benny who will introduce the speakers and set the tone for the Equilogue. This will be followed by a research presentation from Dr. George based on his doctoral research on inclusion in Universal Health Coverage in India, followed by reflections from Mr. Ramu, his Indigenous research collaborator from Attapadi in Palakkad, Kerala. The session will be moderated by Dr Rakhal Gaitonde.


  • Dr. Sunil George

    Dr. Sunil George is currently Lecturer in Public Health at the University of Canberra, Australia. He has several years of experience of working with socially excluded communities and their ability to access healthcare services. Dr. George began his career in public health as an advocate for access to treatment for People living with HIV/AIDS in south India in the early 2000s. He has worked with a wide range of community-based organisations in India, South Africa and Australia where he carried out qualitative and mixed methods research to understand the determinants of access to healthcare among different socially excluded groups. His doctoral thesis explored the issue of Universal Health Coverage and its impact on access to healthcare for two socially excluded communities i.e., Indigenous (Adivasi) and Older widows living alone, in the south Indian state of Kerala.       

    Dr Sunil George
  • Mr. Ramu K.A.

    Ramu K.A. is an Adivasi activist who belongs to the Muduga community from Attapadi, Kerala. He has been at the forefront of advocating for social and political determinants of health, including restoring the lands that were alienated from the Irula, Muduga and Kurumba communities living in Attapadi. Ramu continues to farm on his ancestral lands while being an advocate for the rights of his community.

    Ramu ka
  • Moderator: Dr Rakhal Gaitonde

    The session will be moderated by Dr Rakhal Gaitonde, Professor at Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology, Trivandrum, Kerala. His work largely focuses on health policy, the social determinants of health, and health systems. He was involved in setting up a people- controlled health system in Maharashtra with Foundation for Research in Community Health. He has been involved with the Society for Community Health Awareness Research and Action (SOCHARA), where he was involved in the implementation of the NRHM in Tamil Nadu. He is also a member of the National ASHA Mentoring Group of the NHM.

    Dr Rakhal Gaitonde
  • Host: Gloria Benny

    Gloria Benny is a Research Assistant and an early career Thought Leader, The George Institute, India. She holds a master’s degree in Development and a bachelor’s degree in Medical Sociology. She is developing her expertise in qualitative research. She has over five years of experience working with tribal and rural populations in southern and central India. Gloria has a strong interest in research topics within the ecosystem of Health systems and Social Participation in Health. Currently she is involved in a health systems study on health equity and Universal Health Coverage.

    Gloria Benny