Roundtable on progress toward Universal Health Coverage in India

India’s current program of universal health coverage aims to provide reasonable access to health care for its 1.3 billion population. It is a monumental initiative that has been reinforced in recent times by a commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the announcement by the Government of India in early 2018 of the National Health Protection Program (NHPS) or ‘Modicare’. The challenges of achieving UHC are enormous. India currently has over 1 billion people uninsured and it has been estimated that 63 million Indians each year experience impoverishment due to illness and injury. In addition, high out-of-pocket costs pose significant barriers for many patients to treatment and long-term care.

In May 2018, the George Institute for Global Health will bring together government officials, health care providers, academics, international agencies and civil society organisations for a Policy Roundtable on Universal Health Coverage in India. The focus will be to examine progress to UHC, explore key challenges particularly in relation to the setting of investment priorities and interactions with the private sector through strategic purchasing. Given the nature of the federal system in India, and geographical variations in epidemiology and socio-demographics, an understanding of the different challenges across states will be critical. 

The timing of this meeting is ideal given that a critical component of India’s UHC initiative is the yet-to-be-finalised National Health Protection Scheme that will provide coverage for 500 million people and be the largest social health insurance program in the world. Therefore, we are at a unique point in time to influence the development of this initiative and ultimately set out a clear path to universal health coverage.

The Roundtable will be held from 10am to 3.30pm at the Habitat Centre in New Delhi. It will comprise an initial set of plenary presentations from key decision makers involved in the implementation of UHC in India, as well as a couple of presentations reviewing progress in India and internationally toward UHC goals. This will be followed by two interactive Q and A sessions, in which all participants will be encouraged to join in discussion. The first will be around the progress and main challenges of UHC; the second in the afternoon will focus on a specific area of major policy significance – strategic purchasing and UHC. The day will be capped off with a high-level summary and discussion about recommendations for research and policy.