Reimagining India’s Health System: The Lancet Citizens’ Commission

Its objective is to draw a roadmap for Universal Health Coverage and submit it to the government by 15 August 2022.

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Its objective is to draw a roadmap for Universal Health Coverage and submit it to the government by 15 August 2022.
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The Lancet Citizens’ Commission was launched on 11 December to develop a roadmap to achieve universal health coverage and to submit it to the government of India by 15 August 2022.

The initiative is the result of a collaboration with the world’s leading international medical journal, The Lancet, and Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute, Harvard University.

It aims to bring together voices of Indian citizens and prominent stakeholders from across diverse sectors of India’s health system 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 who have brought together thirteen experts from academia, the scientific community, civil society, and private healthcare to serve with them, a press release said. The four co-chairs include: Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Executive Chairperson, Biocon Ltd, Tarun Khanna, Director, Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute, Harvard University, Vikram Patel, Professor of Global Health, Harvard Medical School and Gagandeep Kang, Professor, Christian Medical College, Vellore.

Commenting on the Commission’s vision, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Executive Chairperson, Biocon said, “This 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.”
Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw

The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the gaps in the Indian healthcare system and necessitated the need to reevaluate the work that needs to be done to improve access to affordable, accessible and inclusive care for all.

Vikram Patel, Professor, Harvard Medical School and Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and co-founder of the Indian NGO Sangath, added, “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 Commission would engage in the following tasks to achieve its objectives, as put out in the press release:
  • Over the coming year, it 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.
  • 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 and 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.”

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