Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced the country can only reach its potential with a healthy population

By Daniel Herborn

Posted on August 17, 2018

“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,” he said. “The healthcare initiatives of the government will have a positive impact.”

Under the scheme, which has been tagged ‘Modicare’, poor families will receive health coverage of up to US$7,100 every year. To put that number into perspective, the average annual income per capita is around US$1,900.

“It is high time we ensure that the poor of India get access to good quality and affordable health care,” Modi said.

It is expected premium payments will cost India around US$1.9 billion under the new scheme.

The plan would represent a massive step forward for health care in India, but critics say India simply does not have the infrastructure to deliver health care. It currently has a patient to doctor ratio of 1,135 people and this becomes even greater outside of the major cities.

According to statistics from the World Bank, India spends just 1.4% of its gross domestic product on health care, lagging far behind China (3.1%) and the US, which spends 8.1%.

Low levels of insurance are a major cause of health problems among India’s rural poor. Health problems in the country are both a cause and effect of poverty; it has been estimated as many as 70 million people fall into poverty annually due to ill health.

India has been the world’s fastest-growing economy in

In his speech for India’s Independence Day, Modi also returned to one of his favourite themes, India’s participation in the space race. He promised India would undertake a manned space flight by 2022.

Back in 2014, India became the first Asian country to reach Mars when it sent a rocket into the red planet’s orbit. That project cost US$74 million, considered a trifle by space exploration standards. India is also looking to send an unmanned mission to the moon in January 2019.