Economy

Healthcare industry needs ‘lifeline’

K V Kurmanath | Updated on March 12, 2018

hospitals

With a bed ratio of 0.77 per 1,000 population and doctor-population ratio of 0.6:1,000, the healthcare industry in the country wants an immediate lifeline to tide over the ever increasing demand-supply gap. The lifeline should include a 10-year tax holiday, infrastructure status and waiver of duties on life-saving drugs and key equipment.

“In order to reach the average level of 1 bed per 1,000, we need three lakh beds more. This calls for an investment of Rs 75,000 crore. With land and building development forming up to 65 per cent of the project cost and skyrocketing equipment cost in tertiary costs, it is time the Government identify the healthcare industry as a priority sector,” industry leaders said.

Talking on his wish-list for the Union Budget, Dr Prathap C Reddy, Chairman of Apollo Hospital group, India fared badly with regard to bed-population ratio. “Compare the India figure with that of the West (1:250) and Japan (1:90). The World Health Organisation prescribes the ratio at 1:450. In order to achieve this, the country needs to invest Rs 40,000 crore a year in the next 10 years,” he said.

The industry needed a stimulus package akin to the one given to the infrastructure and information technology industry. “The Government doesn’t need to allocate funds. It just needs to create a policy environment that encourages banks and financial institutions to lend to hospital projects,

Dr K Ravindranath, Chairman and Managing Director of Global Hospitals group, said industry needed a long-term funding keeping in view very long gestation periods. “Unless we get the lifeline of finances, it will be very difficult for us to attend to the Government-sponsored programmes. They did give us some sops for setting up hospitals in rural areas. But there are poor people in urban areas too,” he pointed out.

The group has 2,000 beds in Hyderabad, Chennai and Bangalore.

Research

The country made a mark in generic drugs, but it was time it focussed on basic research to develop molecules and drugs. “It will get huge revenues. Development of molecules will not happen overnight. The Government need to streamline systems and bring in necessary policy changes to encourage research,” he added.

Disease burden

The industry argued that the country could not afford to waste time. Quoting studies, experts said the country would have five crore diabetics by the end of the year. It would grow to nine crore by 2030. It would be home to half of all the cardiac cases in the world by the end of the year.

“We need to take measures immediately as we tackle the disease burden,” Dr Prathap Reddy said.

Published on February 24, 2011

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