In 2005, the Government of India launched the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) to commit increased health spending with the aim to improve the quality of health care for people in rural areas, especially the poor, women, and children. At the request of the Government of India, the Earth Institute of Columbia University has been convening an International Advisory Panel (IAP) since 2006. The IAP meets biannually with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW) and Government of India to review NRHM operations, assess progress, conduct evaluations and make policy recommendations. These meetings bring together preeminent international leaders in health policy, services delivery and financing to discuss challenges and opportunities in India.
In February 2012, the IAP met for the 10th time with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The meeting with Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad examined recent innovations within NRHM, including the Janani-Shishu Suraksha Karyakram scheme, and recently reported drops in national infant mortality rates.
In August 2011, the IAP convened with Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad to discuss Model Districts as a proof-of-concept project.