How’s India Doing in Medical Education for Universal Healthcare?


Medical education in India does not prepare doctors to effectively manage contemporary health challenges, let alone emerging ones. What we need is a comprehensive overhaul to align medical education with the needs of the country and the goal of universal healthcare.

The Covid-19 pandemic wreaked unprecedented havoc on the lives and livelihoods of people in India, disproportionately upending those on the margins of society. This great disaster exposed the fragility of state capacity and the inability of the country’s health system to cope with major public health challenges. The pandemic was also a serious setback to achieving the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, where India ranks 121 amongst 163 countries, below all South Asian nations except Pakistan.

The country now faces a high prevalence of communicable diseases in tandem with an increasing incidence of non-communicable diseases. Decades of sub-optimal investment in healthcare, a lack of political commitment to the ideal of universal quality healthcare, and the absence of a comprehensive strategy to address the glaring inequities in health outcomes in the country are not accidental policy failures. They are structurally embedded in the political economy and socio-cultural matrix of the country, one which does not consider health, nutrition, education, and the like as public goods. There has been no political consensus, let alone social contract, on incorporating health, nutrition, education, social safety, gender, and social equality as critical inputs to economic development….