New Delhi: The World Health Organization (WHO) Wednesday hailed India’s National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS), an ambitious plan to provide health insurance to 50 crore people.

Addressing health experts in India, WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the “bold and ambitious" NHPS could lift people out of poverty.

Ghebreyesus, who called NHPS a turning point, also lauded India’s achievements in the elimination of yaws and maternal and neonatal tetanus.

India needs to do a lot more on infant mortality and unequal access to medical care, Ghebreyesus said. “The government’s commitment to increase its expenditure to 2.5% of GDP by 2025, more than double the current spending, is very encouraging," he added.

With commitment to universal health coverage, strengthening of primary healthcare, provision of free drugs and diagnostics at public health facilities, and stepping up financial protection for healthcare through a government-funded programme, the scheme proposes to improve improved access to healthcare and reduce out-of-pocket expenditure.

Calling NHPS a “priceless gift" to people, Ghebreyesus said India is embarking on bold and ambitious reforms.

“This is an investment not only in a healthier future but in a safer future because when people can access health services close to their homes outbreaks can be prevented and detected early. That’s why we say that UHC and national health security are two sides of the same coin," he said.

India must ensure it gets more health for its money, focus on service quality, and prioritise those who are most disadvantaged. Careful work is needed in strategic purchasing to keep prices low, he added."

The WHO official was speaking at a meeting at Niti Aayog attended by CEO Amitabh Kant, member Vinod Paul, health secretary Preeti Sudan, and others.

“The private sector must play an important role; after all in India, more than 70% of people are seeking care at private facilities," he added.

Sustainable development goals (SDGs) will not be achieved if the present scenario continues; therefore, he has asked the member states to make commitments about the actions they will take in the next one year.

Ghebreyesus said India has a major role in driving other countries to achieve success. “Your success will mean that no country at any level can say UHC is out of their reach. India has also has a major contribution to make to other countries progress towards health for all. We want you to succeed, we will support you to make sure you do, your success is the world’s success," he said.

Close