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Strengthening primary health care in India

Strengthening primary health care in India

Strengthening primary health care in India. Opportunities for India-UK partnership

Start Date:  Jully 2011   End Date:  Feb 2012   Status: Completed


The India UK CEO Forum was established by the Indian and British Prime Ministers in July 2010 to seek to substantially increase collaboration between the UK and India. At the inaugural meeting of the Forum health was identified as a priority area. The Health Workstream of the Forum identified the strengthening of primary care as a priority. It was recognised that the delivery of appropriate, high quality, low-cost healthcare to large population numbers through the provision of primary care would result in significant health and economic benefits in India and provide the foundation for a world class health system. It was also recognised that accelerating the scaling-up of primary care (or family medicine) in India through collaboration and partnership with the UK would provide both countries significant opportunities for shared learning and strengthening their health delivery. The Forum commissioned a White Paper which would outline the scope for such a partnership. Mala Rao was invited to lead the writing of the White Paper, which she prepared jointly with Professor David Mant.


To develop the White Paper which would set out the challenges and opportunities for the UK and India to work together in the area of primary care, to share its findings and recommendations with key stakeholders and healthcare champions and to support the CEO Forum, the 2 governments, and policy and research leaders such as the Wellcome Trust in identifying new opportunities and potential partnerships between India and the UK to accelerate the scale-up of India’s primary health care services.


A number of roundtable meetings were arranged by the Wellcome Trust to facilitate discussion among  technical experts on a framework and content of the collaboration and to seek their suggestions and views. The White Paper reflects these contributions from the experts. An extensive literature review was also conducted.

Main Findings:


A White Paper entitled 'Strengthening Primary Healthcare in India: White Paper on Opportunities for Partnership' was prepared and was subsequently published by the British Medical Journal in 2012. The White Paper provided the basis for a two day workshop held in New Delhi, India on 23-24 February 2012, jointly hosted by the Wellcome Trust, the Government of India MinĀ­istry of Health and Family Welfare, and the UK Department for International Development. The workshop was attended by India's most senior health policy leaders. Its recommendations were that consortia should be formed to take forward joint action in the areas of Human Resources for Health, Technology for Health and Primary Care Governance and Best Practice.

The recommendations have influenced a greater focus on primary care development in India, a significant departure from the hospital-centric healthcare development which has dominated the health delivery system in India for several decades. It has also influenced the inclusion of primary care collaboration among the priorities in the UK-India MOU for Health agreed in 2013. The White Paper has also evoked significant interest in other developing countries particularly in Latin America, where its recommendations are being examined for local relevance. 

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Project Lead:

Professor Mala Rao

Funder: DFID

Project Partners: Health Workstream of India-UK CEO Forum (Chair: Sir Mark Walport, then Director, Wellcome Trust)

Report: Strengthening primary care in India. BMJ 15 May 2012

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