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Healthcare Sabha 2017 discusses blueprint for a healthy India

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Policymakers and opinion leaders come together at the event hosted by Express Healthcare to discover a cure for the problems ailing the current public healthcare system By Lakshmipriya Nair

‘Co-creating a Manifesto for a Healthy India’ was the theme for the second edition of Healthcare Sabha, – The National Thought Leadership Forum for Public Healthcare. Held at Novotel Varun Beach, in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, recently, it started off with a welcome address by Viveka Roychowdhury, Editor, Express Healthcare. She took the audience through the vision of the event and welcomed them to three days of knowledge sharing through debates and discussions on various aspects of public health.

Knowledge sharing galore

Union Minister for Health Dr JP Nadda’s video message also awaited the participants of Healthcare Sabha 2017. He congratulated The Indian Express Group and Express Healthcare for creating a platform like Healthcare Sabha and highlighted the need for such events to facilitate constructive dialogues between the stakeholders in the arena of public health.

It was followed by an interesting panel discussion on a crucial topic which has severe adverse effects on India’s goal to ensure Universal Health Coverage to its citizens – talent crunch. Moderated by Dr Farhat Mantoo, Regional Coordinator HR, MSF, South Asia, the session boasted of an eminent panel comprising Prof AK Mahapatra, Chief, Neuroscience Centre, AIIMS, Delhi; Dr Madhumita Dobe, Director- Professor & Dean, All India Institute of Public Health (AIIPH); Sudeep Srivastava, Director, Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY); Dr Pravin Shingare, Director, Directorate of Medical Education & Research, Maharashtra; and Dr DK Sharma, Medical Superintendant, AIIMS. The panelists discussed the topic in detail and deliberated on the ways to mitigate the talent crunch, both in terms of capacity and competence in public health.

The panelists also recommended measures for talent generation and management which included assessing the current regulatory systems in terms of efficacy and effectiveness, creating more need-based skill slabs, training more allied healthcare workers, encouraging professionals to take up teaching which in turn will add capacity among medical practitioners, integrating AYUSH practitioners in mainstream medical practice, charting a more clear career path for public health professionals to incentivise them, optimising the currently available resources, being more open to innovation in creating and retaining talent etc.

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(L-R) Dr Payal Laad, Dr RK Srivastava, Gajendra Kumar and Prof Dayashankar Maurya discussing on sustainable healthcare financing

The next speaker, Jitendar Sharma, Director and CEO, spoke on sustainable health financing systems and elaborated on how it touches various segments of the healthcare sector including health services, medicines, diagnostic services and health promotion and education. He also gave a rundown on the myriad financing programmes being implemented in the various parts of the country and their impact. At the same time, he also cautioned on the need for more streamlined processes such as third part audits of these programmes for better transparency and efficiency.

The last session for the day was addressed by Dr Suresh Saravdekar, Director, The Rural Health & Education Centre, who spoke on NLEM, procurement practices and patient safety. He spoke on the need for quality in medicines as well as in their usage. He also elaborated on bridging the difference between various generic medicines. He advised people to move from quality assumed to quality assured.

Challenges to conquer

Policymakers and key opinion leaders in India’s public healthcare sector reconvened on the second day of Healthcare Sabha 2017 to continue the knowledge exchange with an aim to address the dominant challenges in the country’s public health system.

Sunil Sharma, Joint Secretary, Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY), Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India gave a great start to the second day of Healthcare Sabha 2017 with an insightful keynote address wherein he reiterated that availability, affordability and reliability are the cornerstones of any successful public health system. He also gave an overview on various government measures to facilitate a robust healthcare system which would effectively serve all the citizens of the country. He went on to highlight how funds allotted to NHM have grown up in recent years and elaborated on various schemes introduced to curb out-of-pocket expenditure. At the same time, he also admitted that there are several chinks in our system that need to be ironed out to fortify it and make it more foolproof. He also addressed queries from the audience to give them more clarity on the government’s stance and commitment to improve the healthcare scenario in the country.

In the next session, Angshuman Sarkar, Principal Consultant, ThoughtWorks Technologies, spoke on creating an integrated health ecosystem, empowered by technology. He put forth several ideas to demonstrate how technological advances can generate significant positive outcomes in health. Sarkar also drew attention towards the myriad solutions provided by his organisation to strengthen the public health system.

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(L-R) Dr Deepak Agarwal, Dr Atul Kharate, Dr Prateek Rathi and Dr Suleiman Merchant on good governance

The same theme was carried forward by subsequent speakers, Dilip Bhosale, Head Marketing, India and Pranav Shah, Head Business Development, IT India, Agfa Healthcare who urged the public healthcare fraternity to join the digital revolution to attain the goal of Universal Health Coverage (UHC). They also gave an overview of their solutions for public health facilities.

Thereafter, in an interesting session by A Velumani, Founder, CEO and MD, Thyrocare, he shared the story of his rise from a PSU scientist to a corporate leader without losing the values of social good. Many of his success mantras like profit from volumes, making affordable care possible without compromising on quality, using technology to reach out to a large number of people etc carried valuable insights for public health professionals as well.

The next session was on bridging delivery gaps in Indian healthcare through affordable medtech development and deployment. Dr Mauryashankar Sivaprakasam, Director, Healthcare Technologies Incubation Centre, IIT Madras, spoke on various innovations being incubated at his organisation and emphasised that affordable innovations are the key to create a good public health system.

Prof MV Padma Srivastava, Department of Neurology, Neurosciences Centre, AIIMS, New Delhi, addressed another significant issue – Rising incidence of strokes and the need to scale up stroke care in India’s public healthcare facilities. She also cited the example of Delhi’s ‘Code Red’ programme as a measure to tackle the growing menace.

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(L-R) Lokesh Sharma, Dr RK Srivastava, Dr M Prakasamma and Dr Bejon Misra discussing access to essential medicines and health services

The succeeding speaker, Sabu Jose, GM – Government, OEM & Corporate Accounts – India Cluster, Carestream Health, spoke on the future of imaging and his company’s offerings in this sphere. Sumit Marwah, CEO and Director, Dispoline India spoke on their solutions for infection control and their advantages in public health in his session titled ‘Single use dilemma’.

The skill gap in healthcare was once again highlighted by Ashish Jain, CEO, Healthcare Skill Sector Council (HSSC). He also spoke on his organisation’s role in mitigating the deficit and elaborated on various programmes undertaken by HSSC to handle talent crunch among healthcare professionals, both in terms of capacity and competence. Training the trainers and collaborating with NABH to assure that there are a certain number of HSSC-certified staff in accredited hospitals are some of the steps he mentioned in his session.

Prof Mukul Asher, Professorial Fellow, Lee Kuan School of Public Policy, took the stage next to share his insights on health sector governance and resource generation. He highlighted the need for good governance and a framework for efficient management of resources to evolve a robust public healthcare model. He emphasised that there is no society which can provide best health services all the time, hence management of existing resources is key.

Dr Damodar Bachani, Deputy Commissioner (NCD), MoH&FW, Government of India, another distinguished speaker at Healthcare Sabha 2017, called attention to the growing threat of NCDs, India’s preparedness to deal with it and the immediate measures to tackle this challenge effectively which otherwise would have overreaching adverse effects. He also called for concerted efforts and strategic measures to win the war against this health menace.

The last session for the day was a workshop on NLEM-based hospital formulary in a public health facility, spearheaded by Dr Suresh Saravdekar, Director, The Rural Health & Education Centre. The workshop helped gain more understanding about the best practices in procurement that India can inculcate to improve its own drug quality standards. The delegates also got the opportunity to share their experiences in this sphere and exchange learnings.

Transforming healthcare in India

The third day of Healthcare Sabha 2017 began with a key note address by Bejon Misra, Founder, PSM India in which he highlighted the role of the most important stakeholder in public heath – patients. He said that it is pivotal to empower the patients to create a sustainable and good public health system. The renowned patient activist was also emphatic on ensuring highest quality in medicines and healthcare services in his session.

The next speaker for the day was Vivek Tiwari, Director and CEO, Medikabazaar. He gave a rundown on the various trends transforming healthcare in India and stressed on the need to adopt latest advancements to tackle the various public health challenges faced by the country.

Thereafter, KB Srinivas, GM, National Insurance Corporation spoke on the enhancing role of health insurance in creating a sustainable health financing system. He also elaborated on the myriad ways to finance healthcare and cited interested financing models in his session.

The subsequent speaker, Bhudeb Chakravarti, Honorary President, Centre for Development of Excellence, Hyderabad gave a session on the role of PHCs in strengthening the public health system and recommended measures to make them more efficient.

‘Govt sponsored schemes: Meant for poor, but beyond their reach?’ was the topic addressed by the next speaker, Prof Dayashankar Maurya, Chairperson, Healthcare Management & International Relations, TA Pai Institute of Management.

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An enrapt audience listening to the sessions

Three panel discussions were also part of the day’s agenda. The first one was on Sustainable Health Financing Systems/ Health Economics. Moderated by Prof Maurya; an eminent panel comprising Gajendra Kumar, Advisor, Ministry of Railways, Government of India; Dr RK Srivastava, Sr Advisor, Public Health and Innovation, Wadhwani Initiative for Sustainable Healthcare (WISH) Foundation;  and Dr Payal Laad, Assistant Professor of Community Medicine, Public Health at Lokmanya Tilak Medical College and Hospital discuss ways to create an integrated and functional public health system which is reliable and accessible.

Dr HG Koshia, FDCA Commissioner, Gujarat took the stage and spoke on the regulatory practices in his state to ensure safe medicines for all. He also gave a rundown on the initiatives by the government to protect public health.

Next, RP Khandelwal, Chairman, HLL Lifecare, shared the story of HLL’s growth trajectory from a condom manufacturer to a PSU involved in a range of activities. He also divulged HLL’s future growth strategies and endeavours such as setting up 300 AMRIT stores to increase access to medicines.

A panel discussion on ensuring good governance followed wherein Dr Atul Kharate, State TB Officer, Madhya Pradesh, GOI; Dr Suleiman Merchant, Dean, Lokmanya Tilak Medical College and Hospital, Mumbai; and Dr Deepak Agarwal, IT Head, AIIMS, Delhi highlighted the need for development thinking, spending and action to ensure good governance in public health. Dr Prateek Rathi, Special Executive Officer at ESI Scheme, Department of Public Health, Maharashtra moderated the discussion wherein experts recommended IT adoption, right resource allocation, innovative solutions and best practices to create a efficient framework for public health.

The ensuing speaker, Dr Suleiman Merchant, Dean, Lokmanya Tilak Medical College and Hospital  gave insights on the various advancements in healthcare and was emphatic on the need to adopt them to ensure better health outcomes.

The conference came to a close with a panel discussion on ‘Access to Quality Health Services and Essential Medicines’. The panelists, Dr M Prakasamma, ED, ANSWERS; Dr Bejon Misra, Founder, Partnership for Safe Medicines (PSM) India; and Dr RK Srivastava, Sr Advisor, Public Health and Innovation, WISH Foundation, Former Chairman, Medical Council of India, Former Director General of Health Service, Government of India; discussed on the way ahead to ensure quality in public healthcare and achieve UHC. The experts recommended fortifying public healthcare and safeguarding the human touch, which is fast diminishing in a high-tech world. They also highlighted the need for steps like Jan Aushadhi albeit with better distribution models, evolving better PPPs and engaging all stakeholders to strengthen the current public health system in India. Lokesh Sharma, Director, QuintilesIMS Institute India; Head of Government Solutions in India for QuintilesIMS Health, QuintilesIMS Health moderated the session. Thus, the conversation revolved around solutions to deal with the current challenges related to health expenditures, services and performance outputs.

The sessions were followed by Express Public Health Awards, an endeavour to recognise and celebrate the commitment shown by state governments, public sector institutes, government hospitals and NGOs to safeguard India’s health. It was held in collaboration with Glenmark, Public Health Foundation of India and KPMG. The second edition of Healthcare Sabha renewed the vigour among the public health stakeholders to reform healthcare delivery in India.

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