ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Repositioning the General Practitioner

The Government of India has recognised the importance of primary health care. The High Level Expert Group on Universal Health Coverage for India, set up by the Planning Commission, has stressed in its report the importance of patient management and the gate-keeping functions of primary care doctors. Unfortunately, it has not diagnosed the reasons for the failure of primary care. This article points out that general practitioners are the only ones who can provide patient-oriented holistic care at the primary level. It argues for the introduction of a market-based incentive for general practitioners and give them pride of place in public health policy.

India, today, faces an unenviable double burden of disease as traditional communicable diseases like tuberculosis (TB) jostle with a rising epidemic of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. In 2010, the country had an estimated 50 million diabetics and 250 million patients with hypertension. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), India could account for 79.4 million diabetics, almost 22% of the worldwide diabetic population by 2030.1 Add to this the rising incidence of hypertension and cardiovascular disease and it is clear that India’s healthcare system needs a strategy to cope with the coming epidemic of lifestyle diseases.

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