India healthcare needs new models to meet the challenges of changing disease and demographic profiles: Dr SD Gupta

Jaipur: A rapidly expanding pool of ageing population, epidemiological transition and use of technology are three phenomena that are set to impact the future of Indian healthcare in a big way, but the country is currently not well equipped to handle any of these challenges. This was said by Dr. SD Gupta, Chairman, IIHMR University, at the inaugural session of the pre-conference of the 24th edition of IIHMR University’s annual international summit, Pradanya that began in Jaipur today.

Said Dr. SD Gupta: “The magnitude of healthcare challenges facing India is quite high. Though India’s demographic dividend will last till 2060, its pool of elderly population is also expanding, leading to demographic transition. Today, 9% of India’s population is over 60 years of age. In the previous census, this figure was 6%. In couple of years, this figure is expected to touch 11%, which amounts to a staggering 120 million people. This is a huge number, and the country will be required to take care of their long-term healthcare needs in terms of regular monitoring and disease management process, medications, etc.”

He added: “The second phenomenon impacting Indian healthcare is epidemiological transition. The disease profile facing India has totally inverted between 1980 and 2020. Forty years ago, communicable diseases accounted for 75% of the total disease burden, the rest being chronic and non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Today, NCDs constitute 65% of the disease burden, a figure going to rise to 70% in less than five years. NCDs need long-term disease and treatment management as well as engagement with patients to provide healthcare. India has to face this challenge of rising burden of NCDs and its unique demands on healthcare delivery.”

Said Dr. SD Gupta: “In the last couple of decades, technology has emerged in a big way. Its impact has not been restricted to devices and medical equipment alone. The means of access to healthcare have also changed. Mobile technology or e-health are buzzwords today. One area in which technology can be effectively used is by improving access and availability of mental healthcare in rural areas. We already have a project running in this area which can be upscaled. This is significant because 15% of Indians – about 200 million people – suffer from some form of mental sickness, and many of them reside in rural areas.”

Addressing the assembled students, Dr. Pankaj Gupta, President, IIHMR University, Jaipur, said: “It is important for students of healthcare to share knowledge about not only the current best practices but also the upcoming ones. But mere knowledge is not enough. It must be digested well, converted to wisdom, applied in practice. Knowledge must lead to transformation of the individual. The three important mantras for today’s students of healthcare are Sampark (connections), Seva (self-less service) and Sambandh (trust and collaboration).

The pre-conference events of Pradanya 2019 also saw several technical sessions on different aspects of healthcare. Speaking at the session on private equity as growth driver in India’s hospital sector, Dr. Kapil Garg, Director, Paras Hospitals Group, said: “In the last 20 years, private sector has moved in a big way into tertiary care. This requires large infrastructure, technology and real estate, which in turn needs investment. This is where private equity has proven to be a growth driver for the country’s healthcare sector. Since the year 2000, over USD 6 billion have come into Indian hospital sector as private equity. Today, India boasts of more than 25 chains of corporate hospitals with at least 800 to 1,000 beds each. However, investors need to be diligent now as the sector is moving towards consolidation and government regulations on private providers of healthcare are tightening.”