India has recently reached a major milestone with regards to its public health care system.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced that 500 million of the country’s poorest citizens will soon receive completely free health care. He stated that health care is crucial to the country’s development. He believes that this decision will ultimately help India to move forward into the future.

Modi stated:

“It is essential to ensure that we free the poor of India from the clutches of poverty due to which they cannot afford health care.”

The National Health Protection Mission will provide impoverished families in India with a yearly coverage equivalent to $7,100 in medical services. India’s average per capita income is barely over $1,900; this contribution is massive and will no doubt give much-needed support to citizens who cannot currently afford health care.

While India has implemented some free public health services in the past, the quality of these services was not ideal. Many past efforts to implement free health services ended up draining several hospitals of resources.

If people from rural communities decide to use these services, they will find themselves faced with the challenge of having to travel long distances to get treatment.

A former Indian Finance Minister stated, after the measure was announced, that the bill will be the “world’s biggest government-funded health care program.”

An estimated 63 million Indians fall into poverty each year due to health care bills. As such, the implementation of this bill will be a relief for many citizens who stress over health care costs.

However, India will also have to face a possible lack of doctors. Studies have indicated that only one of every 1,315 Indian citizens is a doctor. This number is quite low and may cause the program’s initial implementation to become hectic and disorganized. The bill’s legislators have stated their beliefs that higher demand and a new medicine-based market will help to increase the number  of doctors.

Featured Image via Flickr/Narendra Modi