Partnerships with private actors will help to strengthen investments, research and technological capacities

The entire health sector has seen a new era of transformation in the post-pandemic era. With emphasis on the development of new drugs, diagnostic tests, various therapies, preventive medicine and extensive research, the health care crisis has shaken the entire landscape in the days to come.

There has been a phenomenal amount of progress that has been made during this time, working in unison, the industry as a whole has set up many covid care centers, revamped hospital infrastructure, spearheaded vaccination campaigns in urban and rural centers and imminent efforts by health care workers to provide best in class treatment. Additionally, there has been a focus on immunity to help people fight the COVID-19 virus more effectively.

Diagnostics has played a huge role in the pandemic through increased testing and formulation of various virus strains which have aided in the timely diagnosis and treatment of COVID patients. Thus, awareness of its importance to the public. In recent months, techniques such as sequencing and genetic testing have been more effective in identifying new variants.

India’s current medical infrastructure and policies

According to the National Health Policy of India (2017), India aimed to devote at least 2.5% of its entire Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to the health sector by 2025. Statistics Recent data show that nearly 1.8% of India’s GDP was spent on health in 2020-21, an increase of 0.65% from previous years (1.15% last year). A Lancet report published in October 2021, highlighted the various gaps present in the primary health care system. People from marginalized, disadvantaged or less educated communities had limited access to diagnostics. For this reason, almost 50% of these patients have not been treated for diseases such as diabetes, malaria, HIV or tuberculosis. The report also highlights why diagnosis is important in identifying communicable and non-communicable diseases in providing treatment and monitoring the progress of these.

2021 Health Budget

During the 2021 Union budget session, the Indian government allocated Rs 2.23 lakh crore of funds to the health and welfare sector. With the aim of strengthening health systems holistically, there was a focus on preventive health care and its vision to foster partnerships that would encourage the expansion of screening services in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. With initiatives such as Atma Nirbhar Swasthya Yojana (investment of Rs 64,180 crore over 6 years) and the National Health Mission, India is committed to making health care more accessible and affordable in all urban and rural centers from the country.

The future of the healthcare sector

The diagnostic and healthcare sector has seen various reforms in the COVID-19 pandemic, various challenges such as restricted testing capacities, inefficient supply chains, shortage of healthcare workers have posed a threat to the efficient operation of this industry. Thanks to advances in digital ecosystems, labs now incorporate technologies powered by artificial intelligence, machine learning, analytics, and data science. Initiatives such as the National Digital Health Mission will equip the Indian healthcare industry to provide affordable, accessible and flexible services to every induvial in the near future.

Health policies must be created from a holistic perspective, focusing on vertical sectors such as prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and health insurance schemes that will benefit the masses. Partnerships with private actors will contribute to strengthening the needs for investments, research and technological capacities.

Public health decision-making should be aided by digital health, genetic research, long-term investments, and the various diagnostic systems in place. Establishing an enabling policy environment will help partnerships, communities, healthcare professionals and industries drive a wave of innovation and has provided much-needed momentum to this sector.

Diagnosis is crucial for disease management. Early detection and treatment will help reduce financial burden and improve quality of life. Each step in this direction is a welcome gesture for the country. In order to provide everyone with the opportunity to live a healthier life, the health industry must work together to support the cause.

(The author is CFO of MedGenome)

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Posted: Tuesday February 01 2022, 10:23 AM IST