As the countdown to the next general election begins, political parties are making multiple promises to pull in votes. All the party leaders are committing to transforming the lives of people. But health, ironically, does not feature high on their priority list, even though it is the central pillar of a nation’s development and productivity and the key to happiness for individuals, families and societies. Perhaps it is time to remind all parties that are seeking to govern the country that India’s health challenges are perhaps the greatest for any single nation in the world.

We continue to face the unrelenting burden of the old and new threats of communicable diseases. The discussion on maternal and child health care, and nutrition, is far from being complete. We have also emerged as the world’s epicentre of chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, heart ailments and mental disorders. Nothing short of a massive transformation of the health system can address these challenges and meet the needs of citizens. People expect much more than a handful of select services under the limited ambit of the existing national programmes.

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For an all-party manifesto on health – The Hindu