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With a population in excess of one billion people, India accounts for 16 per cent of the world’s population and 21 per cent of the world’s global burden of disease. Since independence, and buoyed by a healthy economy and a wider acceptance of its presence in the larger world, the country has made substantial gains in the health sector, including increased life expectancy, reduced infant mortality, reduced fertility rates, eradication of smallpox and reduction of leprosy.

The Crude Death Rate (CDR) and Crude Birth Rate (CBR), has declined from 27.4 per thousand in 1951 to 8.0 in 2003, and from 40.8 per thousand in 1951 to 24.8 in 2003, respectively. Life expectancy at birth has increased from 32.1 in 1951 to 63.6 in 2003, while the Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) has declined from 146 per thousand in 1951 to 68 in 2003.1

However, disparities do exist between urban and rural confines, between states, between districts within states, and between communities within districts. Consequently, the averages indicated above may not always be true.

Geographical spread of projects

There is a vast public health infrastructure, comprising of over 145,000 sub-centres, 23,000 Public Health Centres (PHCs) and 3,000 Community Health Centres (CHCs). It is estimated that this vast infrastructure caters to only 20 per cent of the population. 80 per cent of healthcare needs are still being provided by the private sector.

The rural areas of India, especially, have large pockets of under-served populations, living amidst poverty, malnutrition and poor health. Lack of access to healthcare has thus often led to morbidity, mortality and out-of-pocket expenses, often leading to indebtedness.

The national scenario has spurred donor agencies, such as the Trusts, in their limited capacity, to take note of gaps within the Indian health care system and consequently address them, in an attempt to contribute to an overall improvement in the health care service delivery system in the country.

During 2006-07, as part of the overall Strategic Plan 2011 exercise, the Trusts made efforts towards evolving a plan to guide funding activities across the Health portfolio over a five-year period. This exercise included mapping of the national priorities of the health sector, reviewing the incumbent portfolio of the Trusts and in light of these, developing the strategic plan for the Health portfolio.

The plan identified six priority areas of work that could be supported within the Health portfolio, including:
Reproductive and child health
Infectious diseases
Non-communicable diseases
Disability
Human manpower and health system development
Environment

Currently, the Trusts focus on the following four sub themes through its grant making activities

Also see:
Rakt Pravah 2010
Report on cataract surgical training

1 Statistics and related information culled from: (a) website of World Health Organisation and (b) website of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare

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