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Go Beyond Social Schemes; Revamp The System

It will not be easy to change things but willingness and commitment will be core to this transformation

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Acountry with more than 1.3 billion people – a majority of whom still live in small towns and rural areas with limited or no access to quality healthcare is poised to see significant reforms in its healthcare system. The sector worth $100 million is growing rapidly with a CAGR of 23 per cent and expected to reach around $372 million by 2022. One of the key attributes to the growth of this sector is rapid adoption of digitalisation and ever increasing medical tourism. India is the home of Ayurveda and also considered home of generic medicines of the world. Most of the generic medicines available in developed markets of America and Europe are manufactured in India. We also manufacture medicines indigenously for our domestic consumption at a fraction of the global costs. There is notable thrust that has been put in by our government to promote alternative medicines (Ayurvedic, Unani, Homeopathy) by giving additional grants to universities providing education in such fields.

Over the past decade life expectancy has also increased remarkably in our country especially in rural areas and small towns. We have grown rapidly in the field of diagnostics and medical devices and have become one of the most promising destinations of diagnostic services globally. Indian healthcare system is diverse and full of opportunities but there are huge challenges which lie ahead of us and need immediate attention.

Digitalisation and its continuous adoption has been immensely helping our cause, there have been significant developments in healthcare technology, which have been innovated in India and put to effective use for overall improvement of our healthcare system. But for a country that is so vast and diverse as ours to emerge as a global role model in healthcare system, we all need to act cohesively. For the last 30 years, our healthcare budget has never exceeded 1 per cent of our GDP, which is very low when we compare ourselves to developed economies where the healthcare spending is as high as 15-20 per cent of their GDP.

We need a four-pillared approach to achieve the challenges that this industry faces: successful and  incentivising model of public-private partnership specially in the field of improving our infrastructure like opening hospitals and increasing the number of beds where we lack from global standards, improvement in overall infrastructure of existing hospitals both government and private specially in smaller towns; continuous research and adoption of IT in our healthcare system to provide innovative ways of diagnosing and extending healthcare to each and everyone in our country with minimum healthcare professionals and maximum reach; grants and aids by government in healthcare R&D, to healthcare startups, to universities and students who wish to become doctors and nurses; and finally come up with a model where we don’t have to pay from our pockets for our health care needs.
Some of these activities have already started specially with our Prime Minister taking a shot at Modicare but there is tremendous amount of work  that needs to be done in this sector right from OPD to IPD until final treatment. This cannot be done by just providing cost effective medicines through Jan Aushadhi or by reducing the prices of branded generic formulations. It needs a holistic approach and needs complete revamp and alignment of our healthcare system keeping aside the political vendetta.

It will not be easy to change things but willingness and commitment will be core to this transformation. We, the people of this country, with support from our government will have to drive this change.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Magazine 28 April 2018 anniversary special healthcare

Arjun Juneja

The author is Director, Operations, Mankind Pharma

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