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Focus on medical education will benefit patients

Nalinakanthi V | | Updated on: Feb 01, 2017

2 new AIIMS, more PG seats will reduce doctor-patient ratio

The Budget proposals for the pharma and healthcare industry have been coined with the objective of expanding the reach of pharma, making it affordable to all sections of the public and improving the country’s healthcare infrastructure.

The government has spelled out four key initiatives in the Budget.

First, the plan to increase the total seats for post-graduate courses and strengthen post-graduate teaching in select ESI and Municipal Corporation Hospitals should help address the current problem of low doctor-patient ratio.

Other initiatives, such as encouraging private hospitals to offer DNB (Diplomate of National Board) courses will help improve the doctor availability per patient.

Second, setting up an All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Jharkhand and in Gujarat and transformation of 1.5 lakh health sub centres into health and wellness centres will improve access to healthcare.

Third, the government has indicated it will amend the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945, to improve availability of drugs at reasonable prices and promote use of generic medicines.

Finally, the Budget has also hinted at new rules for regulating the medical devices industry. This will be in line with those prevalent globally to encourage fresh investment into this sector, indigenise production and make it affordable.

Poor infrastructure

In India, barely a third of the population has access to healthcare. This is because the current healthcare infrastructure, particularly, in non-metros is not adequate.

The current doctor-patient ratio is abysmally low at one per 1,674 patients, compared to the WHO norm of one doctor for 1,000 patients.

Secondly, affordability is an issue, with two-thirds of the beds owned by private hospitals. Hence, there is a clear need to create healthcare infrastructure.

The proposal to encourage private hospitals to offer DNB (Diplomate of National Board) courses, may be an additional revenue stream for corporate hospital chains such as Apollo Hospitals, Fortis Healthcare and Narayana Hrudayalaya.

The decision to increase the number of seats for post-graduate programmes will support the expansion initiatives in the hospital space.

The two new AIIMS will help improve the reach of quality healthcare services. This will also be critical to ensure eradication of infectious and contagious diseases.

While the move to amend Drug and Cosmetics Rules, 1945, will benefit pharma companies by way of higher volumes, any reduction in selling prices to make them affordable may not be positive for the drug makers.

Published on January 12, 2018

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