New Delhi: The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented disruption for the global health community and overstretched healthcare infrastructure of even the most developed countries. It has forced healthcare institutions and regulatory bodies to re-think, restructure and reform the existing processes and systems and seek more advanced and alternative ways of providing healthcare.
In India, while healthcare has not been very high on the political or public agenda, COVID-19 has triggered the much-needed government focus towards healthcare infrastructure development. It is evident that the pandemic will bring in a huge paradigm shift in not only the way medicine will be practiced in future, but the way healthcare is envisioned- by the government, the industry as well as the community at large.
Traditionally India has not invested sufficient resources on public health infrastructure development as well as to anticipate a response to sudden large outbreak of infectious diseases. Despite the significant TB burden in India and sporadic outbreaks of other infectious diseases including chicken pox, our public health infrastructure is still inadequate which has been further accentuated during the COVID 19 pandemic.
Managing and responding to the triple disease burden for 1.3 billion population is indeed a mammoth task. India will never have sufficient public funds to achieve universal healthcare. In order to overcome the twin challenge of surging non-communicable and infectious diseases, it is imperative that the public spending on healthcare is increased to 4.5% of GDP over next 7-10 years. The government had envisaged to reach at least 2.5% of GDP by 2022. However, we need to start spending an extra 0.5% of GDP or at least INR 70,000 cr every year on health for the next five years to be able to fill the deficit. There for private sector investment and public private partnerships in the healthcare sector is going to be critical to meet to fulfil SDG3 goals.
The government has been rolling out a series of reforms to achieve universal healthcare through the implementation of the National Health Policy of 2017, the Ayushman Bharat- Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY), the recent Atma-Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan and National Digital Health Blueprint. Even though healthcare costs in India are almost 10 times lower than other nations, due to low per capita income, challenge of access, affordability and quality of care persists.
The pandemic, however, has enforced the paradigm shift in the entire approach to life, work and healthcare. Health, hygiene, sanitation and fitness have come to the center-stage of civilisation. These behavioural changes are giving way to a transformed healthcare delivery system- including new care delivery models, enhanced use of digital tools and technologies, greater focus on preventive and primary care along with point of care and home-based care, restructured facilities and operating models, and boost to local manufacturing as well as R&D in products and treatment for better health outcomes.
Dr Sangita Reddy, President FICCI, enumerated, “Building digital infrastructure for the healthcare sector through the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) initiated by the PM’s Digital India movement, will catalyse robust reforms for improving health care delivery to the last mile in next few years. IT industry was the key growth driver for the Indian economy for the last 30 years. NDHM can leverage and maximize the potential of the Health care industry to be the growth driver of the Indian economy for the next 100 years provided timely implementation of appropriate interventions and reforms are done.
Dr Alok Roy, Chairman, FICCI Health Services Committee highlighted, “with this vision, the FICCI Healthservices Committee has carefully crafted the Theme for FICCI’s annual healthcare conference- FICCI HEAL 2020- as “Post-COVID Healthcare World” – The New Beginning”. The FICCI HEAL Conference would provide that unique platform needed today to exchange innovative ideas and best practices as well as deliberate on all the emerging opportunities for the post-pandemic healthcare world that is affordable and accessible for every citizen of the country”.
The pre- and post- conference sessions over the three days will highlight the impact of COVID as well as learnings and opportunities for the future development of healthcare systems – across the spectrum, including evolving care delivery, developments in diagnostics, enabling digital technologies, rise in home healthcare, changing pharma landscape, self-reliance in medical technology. There will be a parallel stream of Scientific Sessions that would focus on the clinical challenges faced due to COVID-19 and the response from various stakeholders. FICCI Healthcare Excellence Awards, Keynote addresses and Medtech Bootcamps are the other significant features of the Conference.