India@75: Laying the foundation of a global healthcare hub

No other nation has achieved the same astronomical heights since being freed from the shackles of colonial control as India. India has been a technological and space powerhouse for 75 years, as well as being a major player in the medical field. Following its liberation from the shadow of imperialist British control, the nation was forced to acknowledge the significance of restoring its residents’ health.
Over the succeeding decades, India’s access to and availability of healthcare had significantly improved. India’s greatest remarkable achievement in the public health system since independence has been the decrease in death rates (mortality). From starting large-scale, ambitious national efforts to reducing and controlling some of the deadliest diseases, India has achieved great progress.

Today, India has risen as a research and development hub for life-saving drugs and vaccines. Proving its mettle during the deadly waves of the coronavirus, India is on the verge of dictating healthcare solutions to the global scientific community.

The birth of a healthcare system

Dispensaries were established at the district level during the more than a century-long British occupation, but they were primarily used to treat army soldiers.

Just over 7,000 hospitals existed in the nation at the time of independence, but there was still much work to be done, starting with providing access to healthcare for every citizen, regardless of caste, religion, or employment. Even though the British unimaginably exploited India on every conceivable level, they undoubtedly left behind a functional system for delivering healthcare. But for a nation that had just emerged from nearly 150 years of foreign rule, health was not a top issue, as it is now. In the end, the establishment of a separate Health Survey and Planning Committee and the adoption of five-year plans helped healthcare achieve some success in the eradication and management of epidemics.

We focused on primary healthcare services. Both urban and rural communities have created primary centres. The national health programmes, higher education, and research have also come under the spotlight from the central government. Additionally, it introduced the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) for workers in the public sector.

Additionally, it introduced the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) for workers in the public sector. With these efforts, the health infrastructure improved, and metrics like the ratio of physicians to patients per 1,000 people, the number of hospital beds to patients per 10,000 people, and the number of medical schools, hospitals, and dispensaries all saw slow but steady improvements.

The emergence of large corporations and private hospitals also contributed to the advancement of healthcare and increased the typical Indian’s life expectancy from 32 years in 1947 to 69.09 years in 2018.

The Indian government recognised Homeopathy, Ayurveda, Naturopathy, Yoga, Unani, and Siddha as legitimate complementary medical philosophies in addition to allopathy, or contemporary medicine. In reality, the new generations have begun adopting yoga and naturopathy as a kind of preventive healthcare and have begun to believe in such antiquated techniques.

Being less import-dependent

Among the critical factors impacting the medical sector, medical devices are still largely imported.

According to a KPMG report, the $12 billion Indian medical equipment market has the potential to grow to $47 billion by FY30. It predicts that the government’s commitment to encouraging growth as well as rising healthcare requirements will be the main drivers of the increase.

The one positive effect of the pandemic has been to significantly increase the underappreciated Medical Devices industry, leading to import-friendly regulations and low levies.

A crisis may occasionally encourage you to make more audacious choices.

With the PM’s Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana, PLI Scheme, Health Infrastructure Allocation, a Focus on New and Emerging Diseases, and Health Labs that will Address Major Accessibility Gaps, Healthcare stands to gain enormously.

Leading the way to building a resilient healthcare industry, Thermo Fisher ensured priority access to instruments, consumables, safety supplies and other products to address the recent coronavirus outbreak, particularly in the analysis of the virus, diagnosis and personal protection. On the occasion of 75 years of Independence, Amit Chopra, Managing Director, India and South Asia, Thermo Fisher Scientific said, “I congratulate my fellow citizens on celebrating India’s 75 years of independence. As a country, we are experiencing significant advancements that are being driven by more innovation, collaboration, digital transformation, and an enabling environment, across several industries. India has showcased to the world its resilience in managing the COVID-19 pandemic. With the development of Made in India COVID-19 vaccines and by carrying out the world’s largest vaccination drive, we have further strengthened our indigenous capabilities. Further, efforts by the government, to strengthen the infrastructure and digitization of healthcare services in India is bridging the gap to accessible and affordable healthcare.

Advancements in the fields of molecular testing, cell and gene therapy, and oncology research are also helping to define the future of healthcare in India. Thermo Fisher Scientific is already in the process of introducing next-generation technologies to enhance patient outcomes.

In addition, enabling policies are paving the way for collaborative efforts between the government, industry and academia to lead the country down a ‘healthier’ path as a nation.”

Towards a healthier century

Gone are the days when the child mortality rate was a significant worry, today, India is the largest provider of generic drugs globally. Indian pharmaceutical sector supplies over 50% of global demand for various vaccines, 40% of generic demand in the US and 25% of all medicine in the UK.

India enjoys an important position in the global pharmaceuticals sector. The country also has a large pool of scientists and engineers with the potential to steer the industry ahead to greater heights. Presently, over 80% of the antiretroviral drugs used globally to combat AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) are supplied by Indian pharmaceutical firms.

With the PM’s Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana, PLI Scheme, Health Infrastructure Allocation, a focus on new and emerging diseases, and health labs that will address major accessibility gaps, Indian healthcare stands to gain enormously.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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