Saturday 28 May 2022
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Healthcare sector set for unprecedented growth

DHVIndia’s healthcare sector is set for unprecedented growth as the Narendra Modi Government’s Universal Health Assurance (UHA) programme will cause an explosion of demand by making medical treatment affordable for the millions who have been excluded for the past seven decades by prohibitive costs.

UHA is in the process of being finalised and will be presented to the nation within the current financial year. I have set up committees comprising the best possible academic, administrative and technical on public health, institutional strengths and weaknesses and, above all, health insurance. Their interim reports are with me and I can disclose at this stage that the future indeed looks good.

The healthcare sector of India is already growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 15% since 2011 and is today worth about $ 80-85 billion. Independent projections have put the turn-of-decade size in the region of $ 150 billion. But this could have been under-estimation as UHA was not factored in.

For instance, I am talking about 50 free essential drugs for all, which means demand on an unimaginable scale. What does this mean for India’s pharmaceutical companies? Will they be able to cope given their present, limited capacity utilisation? I ask them to tighten their belts if they want a share of the coming boom because the government will not compromise on quality standards and transparency.

Apart from free drugs, there will be government paid-up health insurance cover for the poor and competitively premiumed health insurance for all. The private sector hospitals and clinics will benefit from far larger volumes than at present, thereby leading to massive spinoffs in terms of business and employment.

Already private hospitals and nursing homes are welcoming patients covered by the Rashtriya Swastha Bima Yojana (RSBY) because government backed insurance is translating into higher footfalls. Once UHA kicks in, the implications will be much more salutary.

I believe that India’s health sector will see the same revolution as the one witnessed in mobile telephony in the early 2000s. Back then it was the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Government’s bold decision to make incoming calls free which kick-started it. Industry contributed by introducing the pre-paid system for small subscribers. Now it will be Shri Narendra Modi’s UHA which will transform the health sector resulting in wide social and economic benefits. I invite you all to come aboard.

Just as millions of new jobs were thrown open by the mobile telephone revolution, the healthcare boom will stimulate a huge downstream. The MSME sector will be given special advantages because government will become the biggest marketplace for buying and selling of healthcare goods and services.

I have cautioned the private sector of the high benchmarks for transparency, quality and consumer protection in the evolving UHA. At the same time, the government is aware of its own responsibilities.

The Information Technology component in UHA will be so strong and tamper-proof that corruption and sleaze will be absolutely impossible. The consumer, i.e. the patient, will be treated as king. Anti-competitive practices and consumer rights violation will be dealt with through a regulatory body.

One of the biggest challenges, would be to keep up the supply of doctors and technical personnel. The present doctor to population ratio — 1:1700 — needs to be improved. A great number of technical personnel in diagnostics, radiology, etc. are also necessary.

The expansion of the health sector will be felt in Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) as well. The 21st century belongs to holistic medicine and I intend making AYUSH a way of life because most of the ailments with which people report to doctors can easily be treated by these forms of therapy. I have already formed a committee to suggest steps for expansion of holistic healthcare through development of protocols.

The government has already firmed up plans to give medical education a fillip. As far as possible existing district hospitals all over India would be provided with funds to add medical colleges to their campuses.

Please be patient and prepare for the coming explosion of business and jobs. We cannot hope to have Health for All without a social movement at its core. Let government and private sector pool synergies and make making people healthy good business.

Shri Narendra Modi government was swept to power because the people believed it could come out with out-of-the-box solutions for India’s problems. The healthcare sector is poised to be the stage of the inter-play of government-people-corporate interests, all motivated by the urge to make India a healthy nation.

In January 2014, we were declared a polio free country. When I first tried the pulse polio project in the early 1990s, many thought I was overreaching myself considering the logistics of that era. This time I am attempting something which is more possible than eradicating polio.

The writer is India’s Health Minister

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