Can the AYUSH system be instrumental in achieving universal health coverage in India?
Universal health coverage (UHC) in the Indian context is understood as easily accessible and affordable health services for all citizens. The Planning Commission of India constituted a High Level Expert Group (HLEG) in October 2010 for the purpose of drafting the guidelines of UHC. While the primary focus of UHC is to provide financial protection to all citizens, its delivery requires an adequate health infrastructure, skilled health human resources, and access to affordable drugs and technologies so that all people receive the level and quality of care they are entitled to. This paper attempts to link the ayurveda, yoga and naturopathy, unani, siddha and homoeopathy (AYUSH) systems of medicine with UHC. Here, the AYUSH system refers to the AYUSH workforce, therapeutics and principles, and their individual role in delivering UHC to the citizens of India. In outlining the role of AYUSH, the paper lays stress on the 10 guiding principles of UHC, as proposed by the HLEG. However, as the AYUSH system is not the principal health service provider in India, the dominant system being that of allopathic medicine, a few components of UHC may not fit neatly into the AYUSH system. This paper has adopted the definition of UHC quoted by the HLEG.
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