Mr. JP Nadda, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, said that the government is committed to bring about proactive policy changes in the healthcare sector to make it more responsive to the needs of the common man and to create a strong healthcare infrastructure network where government and the private sector can work together for ensuring universal healthcare at affordable cost.
Inaugurating the 14th India Health Summit organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) today in New Delhi, Mr. Nadda stressed, "At this turbulent time in the Indian healthcare system, stakeholders must sit together to sort out the differences to evolve a policy framework that should address how to provide affordable universal healthcare to the citizens. At the same time,it is important to keep high the credibility and respect of the medical profession. To serve the masses, the governmental delivery systems should integrate with the private healthcare to reach out people who are cut off from the mainstream.”
The minister pointed out that the medical community should communicate more succinctly to the general public. “You cannot afford to live in silos. The challenges, impediments and advantages India possesses in the medical system should be communicated to the general public. At the same, medical community should be aware of the imponderables being faced by those who are seeking medical help, particularly from the point of view of cost. Such meaningful interfaces can take the medical profession to its pristine glory,” he added.
Mr. Nadda underscored the achievements of his government in the healthcare sector, such as increase in the health expenditure as a proportion to the GDP. Prior to 2014, there was a cut in the health expenditure. As against this, the expenditure is increasing every successive year since 2014. For the year 2017-18, the budgeted expenditure is 27.5% higher than the previous year. Of that, more than 70% has already been expended.
The minister also stressed on the focus given to open new medical colleges. 58 medical colleges at the district levels attached to hospitals will be modernized with more facilities and equipment. Over 60 new medical colleges will be set up attached to district hospitals across the country. Besides, the government is committed to ensure the same facilities and expertise as they exist in the AIIMS, Delhi to the newly opened AIIMs and those in the pipeline so that the patients from far flung areas need not come to Delhi for specialty treatments.
Pitching for greater cooperation between public and private hospitals to ensure universal healthcare, the minister said that a beginning has been made in this direction also. More than 4000 gynecologists from private hospitals have enrolled themselves for voluntary services to the poor living in rural and tribal belts. So far, they had conducted 90 lakh check ups. The government has increased the target for immunization for 2018 to 19% from mere 6.7% in 2014. The government has set up 106 outlets, which give medicines below 60-90% of the MRP, benefitting over 46.6 lakh people. Over 3000 such outlets, which sell branded medicines only will come up in the coming years. Also, it is the policy of the government to eliminate TB by 2025. Induction of more people from the poorer sections of the society is an indication how transparency in the medical education is brought about. “ Undoubtedly, we have to achieve more in this direction to bring more quality and content to the education and we are receptive to changes that are being suggested from various quarters,” he added.
Earlier in his welcome address, Dr Naresh Trehan, Chairman, CII Healthcare Council and CMD, Medanta-The Medicity stressed upon the need for ensuring some order in the healthcare sector. The turbulent conditions should be addressed. He offered to the minister that the industry would sit together with the minister after the winter session of Parliament.
Prof. Karen Eggleston, Director, Asia Health Policy Program pointed out the need for the coming together of the public and private sectors in the healthcare sector to provide universal healthcare. Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) should be the thrust areas for countries like India and China, where NCD incidences are more.
Dr Devi Shetty, Chairman & Founder, Narayana Healthcare laid emphasis on reforming medical education and said that the MBBS doctors should be trained and oriented to perform more responsibilities since under the present rules and regulations, their role in the healthcare system is peripheral. Through proper training, they will be able to perform most of the responsibilities a specialist doctor can do.
Dr (Prof) Randeep Guleria, Director, AIIMS referred to the need for maintaining more quality in medical education, while creating more manpower. The change from clinical approach to investigative medicine, he said, has increased the cost of treatment and has led to mistrust between the doctor and the patient. "What we need is a mix of both to ensure affordable treatment to the patients,” he added.
Dr. Preetha Reddy, Vice-Chairperson, Apollo Hospitals Enterprises Limited, called for a collaborative approach to address the problem of proliferation of non communicable diseases, which entail huge cost for treatment.