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Doctors looking at x-ray images in a hospital. Photo by Swathi Kaliki and Community Eye Health.

View the video of the “Reimagining India’s Health System: A Lancet Citizens’ Commission” launch here:

New Delhi, December 11, 2020: India’s efforts to achieve universal health coverage (UHC) will now be catalyzed by the voices of its citizens and prominent stakeholders from across diverse sectors of India’s health system with the launch of Reimagining India’s Health System: A Lancet Citizens’ Commission. The work of the Commission will begin today, with an aim to publish a final report of its findings and recommendations in the next two years.

Partnering with the world’s leading global health journal, The Lancet, and The Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute at Harvard University, the Commission will lay out the path toward universal access to quality and affordable healthcare services in India. The Commission will be led by four distinguished health and business leaders who have brought together thirteen experts from academia, the scientific community, civil society, and private healthcare to serve with them on the Commission.

Commenting on the Commission’s vision, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Executive Chairperson of Biocon, said“This is a first of its kind consultative and participatory initiative that aims to chart socio-economic parity through universal health equity. It seeks to engage citizens from across the country and put them at the heart of the efforts to transform India’s health system and make universal healthcare a reality in this country. Our intent is to include Indians from all socio-economic strata in this crucial discussion so that their experiences and views can be integrated in the recommendations, thus ensuring a credible and comprehensive report at the end of the process.”

The Commission formed under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has laid bare the need for a resilient health system that offers comprehensive, accountable, accessible, inclusive, and affordable quality health care to all citizens.  What sets this endeavor apart is its commitment to go beyond traditional boundaries of expertise to actively engage whose voices have rarely been heard in previous reports: those who deliver healthcare and those who receive it.

Over the coming year, the Commission will gather insights from across India through grassroots surveys, public consultations, and online discussions on the issue of universal health coverage. It will also build partnerships and work closely with academic institutions, civil society and other stakeholders to catalyze dialogue and knowledge sharing across fields.

The four co-chairs of the Lancet Citizens’ Commission.

In particular, it will continue to engage with the government, which it sees as a critically important steward to realizing universal health coverage. Insights will be shared on the Commission’s website (, as well as on its social media handles. The final report will be submitted for peer review and publication in The Lancet.

Highlighting what sets this Commission apart from previous efforts, Gagandeep Kang, Professor, Christian Medical College, Vellore, said, “To realize a resilient health system where access to healthcare is not a luxury and where the marginalized remain elusive, all stakeholders, including the citizenry, need to work alongside the government and deliberate on solutions for effective implementation of the universal health coverage.”

Previous Lancet Commissions have been enormously influential in shaping global policy and paving the way for medical reforms and global health discussions around the world. Vikram Patel, Professor at Harvard Medical School and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and co-founder of the Indian NGO Sangath, further emphasized the potential of this Commission’s impact in current times. “The pandemic offers a historic opportunity to realize the country’s aspirations to achieve universal health coverage, and we hope to publish our findings in time for the landmark of India’s attainment of 75 years of freedom on August 15, 2022,” he said.

The Lancet Citizens’ Commission logo.

The sentiment was echoed by co-chair Tarun Khanna, Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor at Harvard Business School and Director of The Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute, who also commented on the critical role of healthcare for India’s wider ambitions. “India’s progression toward a greater economic prowess needs to be empowered by its healthy citizenry,” he said.

Pamela Das, Senior Executive Editor of The Lancet, adds: “The first Lancet India Series published in 2011 laid out a bold roadmap for UHC. This new Commission is an opportunity to renew and reconfigure that vision, and put the citizens of India at the heart of the process with a view to transform policy in India. We look forward to working on this important endeavor with our Indian colleagues.”

  • Tarun Khanna, Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School; Director, The Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute, Harvard University
  • Vikram Patel, The Pershing Square Professor of Global Health, Harvard Medical School; Professor, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health; Co-founder, Sangath
  • Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Executive Chairperson, Biocon Ltd.
  • Gagandeep Kang, Clinician Scientist and Professor in the Department of Gastrointestinal Sciences, Christian Medical College
List of Commissioners
  • Yamini Aiyar, President and Chief Executive, Centre for Policy Research
  • Mirai Chatterjee, Director, Social Security Team, Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA)
  • Armida Fernandez, Retired Professor, Neonatology and Dean, Lokmanya Tilak Municipal Medical Hospital and College, Mumbai; Founder Trustee, SNEHA
  • Yogesh Jain, Public Health Physician, Chhattisgarh
  • Nachiket Mor, Visiting Scientist, The Banyan Academy of Leadership in Mental Health
  • Poonam Muttreja, Executive Director, Population Foundation of India
  • Bhushan Patwardhan, Distinguished Professor, Interdisciplinary School of Health Sciences, Savitribai Phule Pune University; Vice Chairman, University Grants Commission; Chairman Additional Charge, Indian Council of Social Science Research, New Delhi
  • Sujatha Rao, Former Secretary of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India
  • Srinath Reddy, President, Public Health Foundation of India
  • Sharad Sharma, Co-founder, iSPIRT Foundation
  • Devi Shetty, Chairman, Narayana Hrudayalaya Limited
  • S.V. Subramanian, Professor of Population Health and Geography, Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies and Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
  • Rajani Ved, Former Executive Director, National Health Systems Resource Centre
Project Team
  • Shyamli Badgaiyan, Harvard Business School
  • Shubhangi Bhadada, Mittal Institute Fellow, The Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute


View the video of the “Reimagining India’s Health System: A Lancet Citizens’ Commission” launch here: