The Indian Healthcare Manifesto – What Have Our Politicians Promised Us and Will They Deliver?


The central and state governments budget for healthcare expenditure was 2.1% of GDP in 2022, according to a report released by the Parliament. In a country where only half of healthcare expenditure is borne by the government with most of the remaining coming as out of pocket expenditure, the result is a severely underfunded healthcare sector. Similar metrics from other prominent nations show a 5.6% total health spend in China, 12% in UK and 18.8% in USA.

With the elections underway, here are the healthcare related promises being made by the various popular political parties according to their publicly available manifestos:


  1. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)
  • Increased spending on education and healthcare.
  • Expand healthcare infrastructure – 900 new PHCs, 30,000 new hospital beds of which 4,000 maternity beds. Target of 5 beds per 1000 people.
  • Quality generic drugs at affordable prices.

2. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)

  • Strengthen the network of AIIMS Hospitals and Medical College seats.
  • Strengthen Ayushman Arogya Mandirs (PHCs, SHCs, UPHCs, AYUSH and UHWCs).
  • Expand the Jan Aushadi Kendra network for low-cost medicines.
  • Expand Ayushman Bharat scheme – expanded to cover senior citizens. Health Insurance up to 5 lakh rupees per family per year.
  • Launching the Emergency and Trauma care mission.
  • Strengthen disease eradication programmes for TB, Leprosy, Lymphatic filariasis, Measles, Rubella, Trachoma, Kala azar, Foot mouth disease and Brucellosis.
  • Increase vaccine production.
  • Increase training facilities for paramedics, health technicians, pharmacists and nurses.
  • Improve mental healthcare services.
  • Improve women’s health with a focus on reducing anemia, breast cancer, cervical cancer and osteoporosis. Focused initiative to be launched to eliminate cervical cancer. Making sanitary pads available for 1 rupee.
  • Mission Indradhanush for maternal and child vaccination.

3. Indian National Congress (Congress)

  • Universal healthcare: Insurance up to 25 lakh rupees per family.
  • Upgrade PHCs with diagnostics and ensure they conform to the standards.
  • Encourage private health insurance and private hospital participation in government schemes.
  • Maternity leave to be made mandatory from all employers.
  • Increase health budget yearly to reach 4% of GDP by 2029.
  • Double allowance and better housing for doctors serving in rural areas.
  • Double allowance to ASHA workers. Increase to 2 ASHA workers in more populated villages.
  • Establish 1 government hospital and medical college per district. Mandatory minimum of 75% staffing in all hospitals and medical colleges.
  • All public health job vacancies to be filled in 3 years.
  • Review of NMC act and full autonomy to the NMC.
  • All systems of medicine will be supported by the government.
  • Strict scrutiny on pharmaceutical manufacturers.
  • Increased central government dispensaries and availability of generic medicines at these dispensaries.
  • 100% immunization (from 76%) within 5 years.
  • Expand the mid-day meal scheme up to class 12.
  • Make violence against doctors illegal.

4. Communist Party of India (Marxist)

  • Right to free health care.
  • Public expenditure on health to be raised to 3.5% of GDP in the short term and 5% in the long term.
  • Maternity leave of 26 weeks.
  • Minimum wage and social security to ASHA workers.
  • Implement the provisions of the ‘Rights of persons with disabilities’ act and the ‘Mental health care’ act.
  • Increase accountability of the public health system. Scrap Ayushman Bharat which is based on the insurance model.
  • Reverse privatization of health services. Regulate the private healthcare sector. Bring an end to private insurance led healthcare.
  • Expand the ESI scheme.
  • Free uninterrupted supply and increased public sector production of medicines. Removal of hazardous formulations. Controlling price of essential drugs by adopting a cost-based pricing formula. Reduction of taxes on medicines. Removal of US-FDA officials from India.
  • Strict regulation of clinical trials.
  • Setting up and increased funding of government medical colleges.

5. Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray)

  • Upgrading district hospitals
  • Ensuring that every Primary Healthcare Centre is well-staffed.

6. Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) (Ajit Pawar)

  • Rural development through health and sanitation.

7. Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) (Sharad Pawar)

  • All-inclusive development with affordable health.

Our country is grappling with a chronically underfunded public healthcare system and the masses are unable to afford private healthcare. A healthy workforce is one of the basic pillars of a strong economy. All developed nations bar none have well-funded (if often inefficient) healthcare solutions. Seeing as we aspire to be one of them, this step is non-negotiable. If some or all of these pre-election promises were to be fulfilled, we could get on the path towards a healthy and prosperous future.


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About the author

Dr. Akash Lobo is an MBBS graduate from Mumbai. He enjoys reading and doing research on a variety of subjects. Through his work and writing he aspires to have a positive impact on the world.'