“To achieve inclusive development, major public and private sector investments are required in Health care in the North East.” This was the key massage that emerged from the two day North East Health Care Summit organized in the city by FICCI and PHFI in Guwahati.
The summit was inaugurated by Mr. Lal Thanzara, Hon’ble Minister, Health and FW, Mizoram along with Mr. Ranjit Barthakur, Chairman, FICCI NE Advisory Council, Dr. K Srinath Reddy, President Public Health Foundation of India (through VC), and Mr. Jayanto Narayan Choudhury, Vice president PHFI, along with State Health Ministers from Mizoram, Meghalaya, Sikkim and Members of Parliaments from North Eastern states.
In his address the Hon’ble Health Minister of Mizoram Mr. Lal Thanzara, congratulated the organisers– FICCI and PHFI for orgnising this important summit that highlights key issues in today’s evolving healthcare scenario pertinent to Northeastern parts of India. However he lamented that due to lack of financial resources, skilled manpower in health, tough terrains and quality medical colleges, healthcare has taken a back seat in this region.
“Poor healthcare services in the Northeast and the need to enhance manpower, including setting up of more medical colleges in the region the requirement of the day. There is an urgent need to review the progress of schemes sanctioned by centre or the NEC towards the improvement of healthcare services in the region, especially infrastructure, in addition to finding out better ways and means to remove health problems and inaccessibility to quality healthcare especially in rural areas of the region. At present, only Assam, Tripura and Manipur have been able to set up their own medical colleges, while states like Mizoram, which grapple with cancer are yet to get any college.”
Mr. Thanzara also appealed to the attending delagtes and organisations to put aside monetary benefits and work towards the improvement of healthcare services in the this region.
Mr. Ranjit Barthakur, Chairman, FICCI NE Advisory Council said, “The northeastern region has the potential to become the new growth driver for the Indian economy but this can happen only if the population can function to its full potential, unbridled by the burden of diseases”.
“Globally, an average of 2.9 beds are available per 1000 population, therefor to even reach anywhere close to the global average, with a population of 45.45 million people, the North East would need over 8 lakh additional hospital beds” Mr. Ranjit added.
Dr. K Srinath Reddy, President, Public Health Foundation of India, in his video address said, “Northeast is one of the most vibrant regions in India, but its health indicators have unfortunately lagged behind rest of India on many counts. With so much technological and infrastructure advancements, it is time to bring about a rapid improvement in the public health indicators, especially in light of the renewed commitment by the central government towards speedy achievement of universal health coverage in the entire North-east region. Already active in the region through its various capacity building and training programmes, Public Health Foundation of India, and its affiliate Indian Institute of Public Health in Shillong, aims to improve health outcomes in the entire Northeast region through educational, research, training, policy and advocacy activities. With a view to complement various state and national level health initiatives, in this two day summit, all stakeholders be it policymakers, industry and health practitioners, will come up with a forward looking plan to improve the health scenario in the entire region, and become a major healthcare hub for entire Southeast Asia.”
Lamenting that there is an absence of private sector interest and investment in North East, and hoping that the central government under its look east policy will allocate increased resources towards healthcare in this region, Mr. PD Rai, Member of Parliament from Sikkim said, “I am happy that this summit has brought together political leaders, policy makers, healthcare professionals, implementers, and corporates on a common platform to deliberate strategies for meeting public health challenges for the northeastern region. There is an urgent need to engage corporates for enhancing public health and advancing technology in this region, ensuring better reach, quality and coverage of health services.”
Over 200 delegates including doctors from the North Eastern States, national and regional speakers and stakeholders representing hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, Medical devices companies and others participated in the deliberations.
The summit which laid major stress on making affordable and accessible world class health care available across the region also highlighted the need for taking a holistic approach to health care, giving equal importance to different alternate and complimentary systems of medicine.
Health care has emerged as one of the most challenging sectors as well as one of the largest service sector industries in India which constitutes around 6% of India’s GDP and employs over 4 million people. The Indian healthcare sector is expected to become a USD 280 billion industry by 2020 with spending on health estimated to grow at around 14 per cent annually. Though India is witnessing some remarkable improvements in healthcare across the country, Northeastern states are still lagging behind in meeting the required healthcare standards.
Of late there has been a marked improvement in public health delivery and a number of good private sector hospitals have come up in the region. But at the same time, the number of Government Hospitals in the region is not adequate to meet the demand supply gap particularly in the rural areas. To bridge the gap, there is a need for higher public investment to be equally complimented by private investments either on a standalone basis or through PPP initiatives.
The two day summit discussed various problems in the Health Sector in the North Eastern States including – shortage of trained medical manpower, providing access to sparsely populated, remote, far flung areas, improvement of Governance in the Health sector, need for improved quality of health services and making effective and full utilization of existing resources.
The summit also highlighted the emerging opportunities for health care in areas like medical value tourism and alternative & complimentary medicine, which aimed at mainstreaming of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha, and Homeopathy) systems and the revitalization of local health traditions (LHT) within the policy on medical pluralism currently being implemented in the entire country.
One the sidelines of the summit, a Healthcare Exhibition was showcased, with a view to explore the emerging opportunities for health care providers in the North East, build a strong connect between healthcare providers and sources of finance including, Private Equities, Social funds, Banks, venture capitals and highlight budding academic institutions such as Indian Institute of Public Health, Shillong (IIPH-S) etc.
Established in 1927, FICCI is the largest and oldest apex business organisation in India. Its history isclosely interwoven with India’s struggle for independence, its industrialization, and its emergenceas one of the most rapidly growing global economies. A non-government, not-for-profit organisation, FICCI is the voice of India’s business and industry. From influencing policy to encouraging debate, engaging with policy makers and civil society, FICCI articulates the views and concerns of industry. It serves its members from the Indian private and public corporate sectors and multinational companies, drawing its strength from diverse regional chambers of commerce and industry across states, reaching out to over 2,50,000 companies.FICCI provides a platform for networking and consensus building within and across sectors and is the first port of call for Indian industry, policy makers and the international business community.
About the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI)
The Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) is committed to working towards a healthier India. PHFI is helping to build public health institutional capacity in India, through interdisciplinary and health system connected education and training, policy and programme relevant research, evidence based & equity promoting policy development, people empowering health communication & advocacy for prioritised health causes. Established in 2006 as a public private initiative, PHFI is an independent foundation headquartered in New Delhi and its constituent Indian Institutes of Public Health (IIPH) set up by PHFI have a presence in Hyderabad (Andhra Pradesh), Delhi NCR, Gandhinagar (Gujarat) and Bhubaneswar (Odisha). The Foundation is managed by an empowered governing board comprising senior government officials, eminent Indian and international academic and scientific leaders, civil society representatives and corporate leaders.
For more information please visit www.phfi.org