NHM in India was launched on 12th April, 2005. It was conceived mainly to provide effective health care to the rural population, especially the disadvantaged groups including women and children, by improving access, enabling community ownership and demand for services, strengthening public health systems for efficient service delivery, enhancing equity and accountability and promoting decentralisation. It seeks to provide accessible, affordable and quality health care to the rural population, especially the vulnerable sections. It covers the entire country, with special focus on 18 states where the challenge of strengthening poor public health systems and thereby improve key health indicators is the greatest. These are Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Mizoram, Sikkim and Tripura.
NHM is the combination of national programmes, namely, the Reproductive and Child Health II project, (RCH-II) the National Disease Control Programmes and the Integrated Disease Surveillance Project. NHM also enable the mainstreaming of Ayurvedic, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy Systems of Health (AYUSH).