India has been making significant progress in improving its health infrastructure to cater to its people's healthcare needs

The government has implemented several key initiatives to provide universal health coverage and ensure access to quality healthcare for all. This article delves into the major aspects of the country's health infrastructure.

India's National Health Mission

Recognizing that its fast-growing population would need extraordinary effort to beef up the healthcare sector, India launched the National Health Mission (NHM) in 2005. It has two submissions: the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) to cater to Indians eking out their livelihoods in the countryside and the National Urban Health Mission (NUHM), targeting the specific health challenges and needs of different urban dwellings in the country.

In addition to this, the NHM includes several other schemes, each focusing on specific needs that, put together, help to achieve the overarching healthcare goals outlined in the NHM. For example, the Ayushman Bharat–PM Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) provides health insurance coverage to Indians incapable of footing medical bills, and Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM), focused on developing the country's digital health infrastructure.

Expansion of Medical Colleges

There are 358 government and 296 private medical colleges in the country, Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Dr Bharati Pravin Pawar said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha this year on February 7. The total MBBS seats is 100163, while PG seats 65335 in the country.

Additionally, India has focused on upgrading existing district hospitals into medical colleges to ensure that medical education and healthcare services are available in underserved areas. The goal is to help reduce the regional disparities in access to quality healthcare.

Establishment of AIIMS

In 1956, there was only one AIIMs in India. AIIMS is known for the highest research and education standards and the best state-of-the-art training facilities. The admission criteria is more competitive, and AIIMS graduates are highly sought after.

Recognizing the importance of AIIMS in providing quality healthcare services, the Indian government has been working towards establishing more AIIMS institutions across the country. Today, 6 new AIIMS are operational and 16 others are in the advanced stage of completion.

The establishment of AIIMS like institutions strengthens the overall goal of NHM, which is to provide affordable and quality tertiary healthcare services to the general public while offering specialized medical education and conducting cutting-edge research in the field of medicine.

Nurses Training Institutes

Nurses perform three crucial roles in India's healthcare sector: they provide hands-on care, help patients understand their medical conditions and management, and ensure that patients receive quality and sufficient care by advocating for their rights.

Cognizant of the nurses' crucial role in the country's healthcare space, especially in strengthening the health infrastructure, India focuses particular attention on nurse education through the Indian Nursing Council (INC).

The INC operates autonomously but is overseen by the MoHFW and regulates the nursing practice and teaching. As of March 2023, there were 917 BSc Nursing colleges in the country.

During the 2023-24 Union Budget, the government committed to establishing 157 new nursing colleges. The goal is to help to further increase the number of nursing institutes in the country and address the shortage of nurses.

A plan is on to set up the first All India Institute of Postgraduate Nursing Education and Research in Gauripur in West Bengal. The Institute will offer advanced courses, including PhDs, post-graduate diplomas and Master of Science (MSc) programme. It also aims to offer nurse practitioner programmes in seven clinical specialties, including critical care, forensic, neonatal, burns and plastic surgery, orthopedic and oncology. In fact, the objective is to position India as the world’s top producer of post-graduate nurses.

Operationalization of Health & Wellness Centers

The Health & Wellness Centers (HWCs) are a vital component of the Ayushman Bharat. Prime Minister Modi launched the initiative in April 2018, intending to provide comprehensive primary healthcare services to the population. The initiative focuses on all aspects of patient care, including preventive, promotive, rehabilitative, and palliative.

According to the National Health Systems Resource Center, there are 76,087 HWCs across the country. The HWCs are expected to play a critical role in improving access to healthcare services, particularly in rural and remote areas, where the availability of primary healthcare facilities has traditionally been limited.


India recognizes the significance of a healthy population as the country marches towards the top in economic performance and population size. As such, the government has taken the early initiative to strengthen the health infrastructure, including opening new medical colleges, establishing more AIIMS, increasing the number of nurses training institutes, and operationalizing more Health & Wellness Centers (HWCs). While challenges remain, the continued focus on strengthening health infrastructure will undoubtedly contribute to the overall well-being and development of the nation.

***The author is a Surat-based journalist; views expressed are her own