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Healthcare Sabha paves way for public health revolution in India

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Policy makers and stakeholders of public healthcare in India came together to deliberate and discuss on the way forward to revolutionise healthcare delivery in India at the first edition of Healthcare Sabha, held in Hyderabad

The first edition of Healthcare Sabha — The National Thought Leadership Forum on Public Healthcare was held in Hyderabad on March 4-5, 2016. The event, organised by The Indian Express Group and Express Healthcare, and supported by the The National Health Mission (NHM), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, brought an interdisciplinary group of professionals working in public healthcare on the same platform to deliberate on cohesive, unified and innovative ways to achieve the NHM of providing ‘Universal Access to Equitable, Affordable and Quality Healthcare Services.’

The event began on an auspicious note with a lamp light ceremony by the Chief Guest, Navin Mittal, Secretary Finance & Commissioner & Ex-Officio Secretary, Information & Public Relations Dept, Govt of Telangana, and the Guests of Honour, Dr Henk Bekedam, WHO Representative to India, Dr Srinath Reddy, President, Public Health Foundation of India, Dr Kenneth Thorpe, Chairman, Partnership to Fight Chronic Diseases and Viveka Roychowdhury, Editor, Express Healthcare.

Mittal, in his address, said that the government of Telangana was working towards quality healthcare for all. Bekedam gave the key note address titled ‘Investing in health is investing in India’s growth.’ He said that the life expectancy of a country is directly proportional to its growth in GDP and if the life expectancy of a country goes up by one per cent then its GDP grows by four per cent. He also said that the spend has to be increased by the government to increase the life expectancy in the country from the present level of 66 years. “Invest in health and protect your people. You don’t need to be a rich country to start universal health coverage. You just need to start,” he advised.

The evening also saw a slew of dignitaries enriching the audience with their presentations. Among them were Chhitz Kumar, CEO Philips Capital & Head- Govt Affairs, PPP, Philips India who spoke about ‘Models of financing public healthcare to aid the masses.’ Girish Mehta, CEO, MedGenome India spoke about ‘Genomics in precision medicine’ and Dr BK Murthy, Executive Director, C-DAC spoke on the subject of ‘Improvising healthcare by implementation of health informatics solutions.’

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(L-R) Viveka Roychowdhury, Editor, Express Healthcare, Dr Srinath Reddy, President, Public Health Foundation of India, Dr Henk Bekedam, WHO Representative to India, Dr Kenneth Thorpe, Chairman, Partnership to Fight Chronic Diseases and Navin Mittal, Secretary Finance & Commissioner & Ex-Officio Secretary, Information & Public Relations Dept, Govt of Telangana

One of the highlights of the evening was a thought provoking speech by Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research, who highlighted the ‘Importance of evidence-backed public health strategies.’ An equally compelling presentation was made by Dr Damodar Bachani, Deputy Commissioner (NCD), Ministry of Health & Family Welfare. He shared some interesting observations on the ‘Emerging threat of lifestyle diseases and their risk factors – Where are we today and the way forward to deal with NCDs as a public health priority.’

The first day also comprised two interesting panel discussions. The first discussion, moderated by Dr Reddy, was on ‘Implementation of Universal Health Coverage/ Assurance: 4-point road map.’ The panelists, Bekedam, Dr PV Ramesh IAS, Principal Secretary to Government (R&E) Andhra Pradesh, Finance; Dr Gullapalli N Rao, Chairman, LV Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderabad and Merai Chatterjee, Director, Social Security at Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) discussed and raised several pertinent points that need to be addressed on priority to achieve UHC.

The second panel discussion was moderated by Dr Suresh Saravdekar, Ex Assistant Director, & Consultant, Procurement, Ministry of Medical Education and Health, Maharashtra. He first presented a talk on ‘Medicine procurement: Assumption versus Assurance of quality’ and followed it with a stimulating discussion with Dr Avinash Supe, Director, Medical Education & Dean, KEM Hospital, Mumbai and Prof AK Gupta, Medical Superintendent PGIMER Chandigarh.

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(L-R) AG Prasad, Vice President- Sales and Marketing, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals; Dr Leila Varkey, Senior Advisor – RMNCH, Centre for Catalyzing Change; Col Kanwar Badam, VSM Head – Piramal Swasthya, Piramal Swasthya Management & Research Institute; G Chandra Sekhar, Vice Chair, LV Prasad Eye Institute; Dr Jayaprakash Narayan, Ex IAS, and presently Lok Satta party MLA from Telengana; T Rajasekar, Vice President – Marketing, HLL Lifecare; Dr Srinath Reddy, President, Public Health Foundation of India; Dr Prof AK Gupta, Medical Superintendent, PGIMER Chandigarh, Anurag Khera, Senior Vice President Corporate Affairs, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals; Rahima Khatun, Secretary, Nari-O-Sishu Kalyan Kendra; Dr DK Sharma, Medical Supreintendent, AIIMS Delhi

The second day of Healthcare Sabha saw the same enthusiasm and opened to a full house. Experts and policy makers of healthcare in India congregated to continue their discussions on their vision and strategies to reform public healthcare in India.

It started off with a keynote address by Thorpe speaking on the topic, Sankalp – Disha Swasth Bharat Ki – Implementing a blueprint for NCDS. He highlighted that NCDs have emerged as one of the major health concerns in India and there is an urgent need to implement strategies which would help tackle these challenges effectively.

The next session was on the role of mobile and cloud-based solutions for comprehensive primary healthcare. Sunita Nadhamuni, Head, Healthcare Solutions, EMC Software and Services presented on how various technologies can be utilised to good effect to better healthcare delivery and improve health indices in the country.

Her session was followed by one on the power of open source software within the public healthcare space. Dr Vivek Singh, Technical Architect at ThoughtWorks, elaborated on how open source software can be deployed to make healthcare delivery simpler, efficient and effective.

Continuing the focus on technology and its potential to revolutionise healthcare delivery, the next speaker, Dr Deepak Agrawal, Head IT, AIIMS gave a user perspective of implementing technology in hospitals with examples of IT initiatives which have been put into place at AIIMS under his aegis.

The next speaker, Dr Prof AK Gupta, Medical Superintendent, PGIMER Chandigarh addressed a crucial topic, challenges and innovations in hospital administration. He gave examples of measures implemented by him at his institution and their impact.

Sabu Jose, General Manager – Government Accounts, Carestream Health India speaks on the potential of digital medical imaging to change the way healthcare is delivered and ensure better outcomes. He shared examples of utilising digital DR to provide better services in a hospital.

This was followed by a panel discussion on ‘Models of financing public healthcare.’ Moderated by Dr Prateek Rathi, Special Executive Officer-ESI Scheme, Department of Public Health, Maharashtra, it saw a lively debate between eminent panelists – Kavita Singh, Director (Finance), NHM, MoH&FW, K Srivatsava, VP-Marketing, Natco Pharma, Chhitz Kumar, CEO Philips Capital & Head-Govt. Affairs, PPP, Philips India and Dr Ananth Phadke, Senior Advisor, Sathi CEHAT. The panel, however, was unanimous in their opinion that public healthcare spending in India has to be increased.

After the panel discussion, Gyanesh Pandey, CMD, HSCC gave his insights on furthering frugal innovations in medical technology, while PR Sodani, Dean (Training), The IIHMR University elaborated on the need for skill enhancement programmes to bridge the workforce deficit in healthcare.

K Srivatsava, VP-Marketing, who took the stage next, spoke on the models of financing oncology medicines, in particular and highlighted EMIs as an option to finance cancer drugs.

The next panel discussion for the day was on ‘PPPs on Public Healthcare: The expanding role of NGOs, Foundations and Corporate Hospitals’ Outreach Programmes in TB control.’ The moderator of the session, Dr Atul Kharate, State TB Officer/Joint Director Health Services, Government of Madhya Pradesh and the panelists, Dr Sreenivas A Nair, National Professional Officer – Tuberculosis, WHO, Country Office for India and Dr Aravind Swaminathan, Paediatrician, MSF, gave valuable insights on various ways in which the private and public sector can collaborate to control the rising menace of TB.

The last panel discussion for the day was on ‘The role of frugal innovations in medical technology.’ Dr Jitendar Sharma, Director, WHO Collaborating Centre for Priority Services and Head, Division of Healthcare Technology, NHSRC was the moderator for this session. Innovators, Dr Pankaj Parashar, Director/ General Manager, MP Health Services Corporation; Mihir Shah, Founder and CEO, UE Lifesciences and Dr Yogesh Patil, COO, Biosense were the panelists.

The sessions were followed by Express Public Health Awards which sought to laud the great work being done in the public health sphere by state governments, NGOs and the private sector. Glenmark was the Presenting Partner and PHFI was the Knowledge Partner for the awards.

The evening ended on a high note with a gala dinner and live orchestra. Thus, the first edition of Healthcare Sabha was a resounding success.

(With inputs from M Neelam Kacchap, Raelene Kambli, Lakshmipriya NairSachin Jagdale and Usha Sharma)

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