Health system in India: opportunities and challenges for improvements

J Health Organ Manag. 2006;20(6):560-72. doi: 10.1108/14777260610702307.


Purpose: The paper seeks to show that health and socio-economic developments are so closely intertwined that is impossible to achieve one without the other.

Design/methodology/approach: This paper sees that building health systems that are responsive to community needs, particularly for the poor, requires politically difficult and administratively demanding choices. Health is a priority goal in its own right, as well as a central input into economic development and poverty reduction.

Findings: The paper finds that, while the economic development in India has been gaining momentum over the last decade, the health system is at a crossroads today. Even though Government initiatives in public health have recorded some noteworthy successes over time, the Indian health system is ranked 118 among 191 WHO member countries on overall health performance.

Originality/value: This working paper describes the status of the health system, discusses critical areas of management concerns, suggests a few health sector reform measures, and concludes by identifying the roles and responsibilities of various stakeholders for building health systems that are responsive to the community needs, particularly for the poor.

MeSH terms

  • Community Health Planning / organization & administration*
  • Decision Making, Organizational*
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Demography
  • Environmental Health
  • Health Expenditures
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • India / epidemiology
  • Insurance, Health
  • Poverty
  • Public Health / statistics & numerical data
  • Public Health / trends
  • Social Responsibility*
  • Socioeconomic Factors