Need to invest two-thirds of spending in primary healthcare: Health Secretary

The union health secretary, Mr C K Mishra while calling upon the private healthcare providers to help in spreading healthcare accessibility, has said that infrastructure in remote areas was weak and only government establishments were functional in such places

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New Delhi: Mr C K Mishra, Secretary, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India, has underlined the need for investing two-thirds of the spending in primary healthcare and enhancing preventive care to keep the requirement of diagnostic care and admission to hospitals in check. As financial resources are limited, it is essential to invest in the right place for optimal results, he said while inaugurating the 11th edition of FICCI HEAL on the theme ‘Indian Healthcare: A Patient’s View on 17th August’ at New Delhi.

Mr Mishra said that infrastructure in remote areas was weak and only government establishments were functional in such places; therefore active private sector participation was needed to make quality and affordable healthcare accessible to all.

He said that the new National Health Policy 2017 with the three pillars of accessibility, affordability and quality of care are in line with a patient’s needs. He added that there was a need to customize care and value the choices of a patient.

Recognising FICCI’s efforts in the health care space, Mr Mishra said that the industry had been forthcoming with policy and reform suggestions, which enabled the government to strengthen its policies. He urged FICCI to develop a framework in conjunction with the government to step the country’s healthcare delivery system.

Mr Pankaj Patel, President, FICCI, said that the government’s intent to increase the public health spend to 2.5%, efforts should be made to increase it to 4% of GDP to meet the universal healthcare goals of the country. He added that long-term financing options from banks are still not available to healthcare providers and this was hampering the penetration of private healthcare in the country. He said that while retention of healthcare services in the tax exemption list under the GST regime is thoughtful and will enable flow of seamless tax credit and improve overall tax compliance, the services rendered by the hospital are exempted from taxes, several input services are subject to GST, which will result in increase in overall cost of care for the patient. Mr Patel said that FICCI assures the government, its complete support for achieving affordable, accessible and quality healthcare to all Indians.

Sharing a patient’s perspective, Mr M Damodaran, Founder Chairperson, Excellence Enablers P Ltd & Former Chairman, Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), said that care, patience, dignity and empathy are the four key words that stakeholders must understand to appreciate a patient’s needs. Referring to Gorakhpur tragedy, he said that it is a wake-up call for all and it is time to take stock of the situation and find solutions.

Mr Rahul Khosla, Chair-FICCI Health Services Committee; President, Max Group & Chairman, Max India Ltd., said that healthcare financing is a huge issue. Healthcare is a sector with infrastructure status, and needed low cost financing options. This will enable creation of last mile connectivity. Besides, there was an acute shortage of skilled manpower and capacities. The need is to build new capacities and re-vitalize existing capacities. He added that there was an urgent need for the government and stakeholders to work collaboratively.

Mr Varun Khanna, Co-Chair-FICCI Health Services Committee and Managing Director, BD India, delivered the vote of thanks. Also, on the dais was Mr. Ashok Kakkar, Co-Chair-FICCI Health Services Committee; Sr. MD, Varian Medical Systems International India Pvt. Ltd. Ms. Shobha Mishra Ghosh, Assistant Secretary General, FICCI, moderated the session.