Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Must be Affordable to All


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Primary Health care and Universal Health care

Central Idea

  • The Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and its implementation in India raises the question of whether we believe in health as a basic human right, which India’s Constitution guarantees under the right to life. The UHC should encompass primary, secondary, and tertiary care for all who need it at an affordable cost without discrimination.

The Definition of Health

  • The definition of health according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which includes mental and social well-being and happiness beyond physical fitness, and an absence of disease and disability.
  • We cannot achieve health in its wider definition without addressing health determinants, which necessitates an intersectoral convergence beyond medical and health departments.

Difference between Primary health care (PHC) and Universal health care (UHC)

  • The main difference between PHC and UHC is that PHC is a level of care within the health care system, while UHC is a broader goal of ensuring access to health care for all individuals.
  • PHC is typically provided at the primary care level, while UHC includes all levels of care, from primary to secondary and tertiary care.
  • PHC is focused on basic health care services and health promotion, while UHC aims to provide comprehensive health care services to all individuals.

Health for All by 2000

  • The slogan Health for All by 2000 proposed by Halfdan Mahler and endorsed by the World Health Assembly in 1977. It argues that universal health care/coverage (UHC) was implied as early as 1977.
  • India committed itself to the ‘Health for All’ goal by 2000 through its National Health Policy 1983.

International Conference on PHC

  • The International Conference on Primary Health Care, at Alma Ata, 1978, which listed eight components of minimum care for all citizens.
  • Components included: It mandated all health promotion activities and the prevention of diseases, including vaccinations and treatment of minor illnesses and accidents, to be free for all using government resources, especially for the poor.
  • Components excluded: Chronic diseases, including mental illnesses, and their investigations and treatment were almost excluded from primary health care. When it came to secondary and tertiary care, it was left to the individual to seek it from a limited number of public hospitals or from the private sector by paying from their own pockets.

Concerns around The Astana Declaration

  • The Astana declaration of 2018, which calls for partnership with the private sector. However the commercial private sector, which contributes to alcohol, tobacco, ultra-processed foods, and industrial and automobile pollution, is well established.
  • The Astana declaration never addressed poverty, unemployment, and poor livelihood, but eulogizes quality PHC only as the cornerstone for Universal Health Coverage and ignores broader Universal Health Care.


  • Every individual has a right to be healed and not have complications, disability, and death. That right is guaranteed only by individualism in public health, the new global approach to UHC, where nobody is left uncounted and uncared for. The Alma Ata declaration of primary health care can be left behind as a beautiful edifice of past concepts, and we should move forward with a newer concept of UHC.

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1 year ago

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