India was the first country in the world to launch a comprehensive Family Planning Programme in 1951. This was aimed at enhancing individual health and welfare in the country. But there were very few health facilities for serving poor people living in remote rural areas. The past five decades have witnessed significant investments in developing a network of health centers all over India.
However, though we have not achieved the expected infrastructure of sub-centers, primary health centers and community health centers, the government has been trying to provide health facilities to all the citizens of India. Though India has been making a steady progress in the development in different aspects of health, a lot of progress has to be made to achieve Health for All goals. “Health for All by the Year 2000” was first enunciated at the WHO/UNICEF meeting at Alma Atta in 1978. As a signatory to this, the Government of India re-oriented priorities to emphasize primary health care, immunization, family planning and nutritional support programmes.
World Leaders including India committed themselves to achieve this ambitious goal by 2000. During 1951-2001, the population in India has increased almost three times from 36.10 crores in 1951 to 102.70 crores in 2001. Therefore, the health system is at crossroads with a wide gap between demand and supply.
Looking at the distribution of medical facilities, we find there is highly unequal distribution and most of the facilities are concentrated around major cities and towns. To reduce this inequality in distribution, the Government of India started an ambitious programme known as National Rural Health Mission (NRHM). Apart from NRHM, Government of India has also launched many programmes related to the health of women and children like Janani Suraksha Yojna (JSY), Balika Samridhi Yojna (BSY), and Kishori Shakti Yojna (KSY). With the success of NRHM, Government of India is planning to launch a similar programme for the urban areas called National Urban Health Mission (NUHM). You may see in the Box, the names of some major national health programmes that are being implemented.