NEW DELHI: Health, it seems, is finally becoming a central plank around which election in the world’s largest democracy will be fought this time around.
The country’s grand old party, Congress, has vowed to promise “right to health care” in its 2019 manifesto, adding to the rights-based laws enacted under the Manmohan Singh government.
“For our manifesto, we’re considering a to health care which will guarantee certain minimum health care to all Indians, increasing the expenditure on health to 3% of the GDP and training doctors and healthcare staff,” Congress president Rahul Gandhi said while interacting with health-care professionals in Chhattisgarh last week.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has made the Centre’s recently launched flagship healthcare scheme, Ayushman Bharat, a big part of its poll campaign, said Congress had been forced to make big promises on healthcare, as the Modi government, through the initiative, has brought healthcare to the forefront of public welfare.
“We are of the view that society can flourish only when people don’t have to pay through their noses to access quality healthcare. It is because of our initiatives that health is getting the importance it deserves,” Union Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot, who is a member of the BJP’s manifesto committee, said.
Members in the manifesto committees in the Aam Admi Party (AAP) and the Communist Party of India (CPI), too, said that steps for universal health coverage, including quality treatment free of cost for all citizens, will feature in their manifestos.
“This is a case of delayed but much deserved attention to healthcare in country’s political agenda. It shows there is political will in parties to acknowledge that we have not done too well on this front so far,” Anant Bhan, an expert in global health and policy, said.
He, however, pointed out that expenditure on healthcare in the country, which was less than Rs 65,000 crores this fiscal, is still just over 1.1 % of the GDP.
Congress has vowed “right to health care” in its 2019 manifesto, adding to the rights-based laws enacted under the previous UPA government.