Controlling drug prices alone will not ensure effective access, echoes IHP panel
India Health Progress (IHP), a call for action group with the objective of providing a health policy platform for its stakeholders to voice their concerns over the lack of accessibility to healthcare, concluded the second edition of the Health Access Week with an expert round table in Mumbai. IHP hosted some of the most respected names from the healthcare industry on a common platform to discuss and deliberate issues related to universal access to healthcare and the government priorities thereby. The panel debated on various aspects leading to identifying some of the possible solutions to making universal access to healthcare a reality. The panel agreed that controlling drug prices alone would not ensure effective access to healthcare solution.
The panel asserted that real problems that need to be addressed include ensuring efficient healthcare delivery mechanisms. In addition, the panel also concurred on the need to ensure overall infrastructure that supplements the provision of appropriate healthcare facilities to be instituted and facilitated by relevant working groups within the state and central governments. This includes basic sanitation facilities along with a hygienic environment to avoid health issues.
Aman Gupta, Principal Advisor, India Health Progress said, “India Health Progress hosted the round table with the intent to discuss the priorities that the government should adopt to translate the Healthcare Access dream into a reality. Unless the right priorities are pinpointed and then pursued as policies to advance healthcare access, we will keep running around in circles year after year, decade after decade. At India Health Progress, we believe healthcare requires the right intervention arising from the top, if it is to finally succeed.”
He further added, “During his address to the nation on 15 August last year, Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister, Government of India had affirmed that the government would lay emphasis on Health in the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17), with funds not being a constraint in the area of health. This is heartening news indeed. However, this is just one aspect. Unless allocated funds are wisely channeled for healthcare purposes, we would be back to square one.”
“Augmenting health infrastructure and human resources are two areas where we believe the private sector could work shoulder to shoulder with the government in meeting national goals. Working with a common vision and shared goals, the public and private sector could act as a formidable entity in reaching new healthcare milestones and accomplishing what has until now seemed mission impossible – universal healthcare access”, Gupta added.
Some of the key points from the panel discussion include:
- While there is adequate fund in the Indian Public health sector, the concern lies in the way funds are channelised and utilised
- PPP could lead to ensuring better infrastructure and providing greater access to patients
- Affordability and quality patient healthcare should go hand-in-hand
- Infrastructure should be made available in the rural areas
- Financing of health – a key concern
- Providing primary healthcare should be the key focus
- RTH – Right to Healthcare should be made fundamental to every citizen of India
Panelists on the IHP expert round table include:
- Dr Sanjay Oak, Dean & Director (ME & MH), KEM Hospital
- Dr Ravindra Karanjekar, Group Director, Global Hospital
- Shriraj Deshpande, Head, Future Generali General Insurance
- Dr Nikhil Dattar, Chief Consultant Gynaecologist, Datar Nursing Home
- Kewal Handa, MD, Pfizer India
- Dara Patel, General Secretary, IDMA
- Amit Backliwal, IMS Health
- Prof (Dr) Purvish M Parikh, Managing Director, AmeriCares India
India’s healthcare industry is poised to reach $55 billion by 2020. However, many challenges still remain unaddressed. Despite various efforts, advancements and improvements, the Indian health system continues to be characterised by inequalities in healthcare delivery, meager health financing, inadequate access to high-quality health services and manpower, each worsened by the rapid rise in the disease burden.