The national thought leadership forum for public healthcare continued with its mission of ushering crucial reforms within the sector
Lakshmipriya Nair & Raelene Kambli/Mumbai
The Indian Express Group and Express Healthcare recently organised the fourth edition of Healthcare Sabha at Radisson Blu Airport, Delhi. Around 100 plus policy makers, thought leaders, pharma CEOs, national and international health organisations, social entrepreneurs, as well as technology and ancillary healthcare service providers congregated for this important meeting.
The theme of the summit was Building the DNA for a Healthy Nation. The discussions revolved around subjects related to increasing quality, affordability and efficiency of medicines and health services. Amongst several discussions and debates on pivotal issues, one interesting session was on ‘The path ahead in public health: A Pharma perspective’ which provided a fresh viewpoint on the role of pharma companies in public health.
The discussion was moderated by Viveka Roychowdhury, Editor, Express Healthcare & Express Pharma and the panelists were N Rajaram, MD, Sanofi India; Umang Vohra, MD & Global CEO, Cipla; Anuja Kadian, Head, Government Affairs, AstraZeneca Pharma India and AG Prasad, VP-Cluster Head, Sales & Marketing, Glenmark Pharma.
During this discussion, experts on the panel shared their companies’ vision toward building a strong healthcare ecosystem and ensuring quality medicines to every Indian citizen. They also deliberated on challenges they face in doing so. Roychowdhury began the conversation saying that health is not only the responsibility of the health ministry. It is a social matter and so every industry and every company needs to contribute to health and healthcare.
Rajaram stated that every industry and every company should imbibe the philosophy that what is good for the country is good for the company. He led the discussion towards understanding the social vision that pharma companies need to have in order to be successful, socially responsible and sustainable in the long run. He further informed that Sanofi’s involvement in public health is at three levels- ensuring access to medicines, investing in public health and innovating what is good for India.
Speaking about the most recent case of Bio-Med and the polio viral contamination, Roychowdhury directed the discussion towards ensuring quality and efficacy of medicines. Vohra showcased Cipla’s legacy of assuring quality access of medicines in India and abroad. He said that company was built on these principles and has evolved respectively. Vohra also spoke about how Cipla is partnering with MNCs to stay committed to their mission. He said that access is not equivalent to affordability, it is much beyond this, and it’s like building an ecosystem for healthcare where no citizen is deprived of medical aid.
Kadian shared AstraZeneca’s strategy which is focussed on sustainability and how access to healthcare is primary to this vision. She explained how all their global initiatives are towards ensuring access to healthcare. She also spoke on the Ayushman Bharat scheme and how will be key to the process of India. Kadian also urged the corporate organisations to collaborate and invest in public health.
Similarly, Prasad spoke on the need for pharma companies to focus on solving India’s health issues. He spoke on the need for more investment by both, the government and private sector in public health. Prasad highlighted that as an important stakeholder of public health pharma companies need to balance quality and efficacy of medicines.
Roychowdhury, while summing up the discussion, commented that Indian pharma companies while exporting drug to foreign countries are already contributing towards making them Ayushman, now the focus must shift to making India an Ayushman nation.
Apart from a thought-provoking panel discussion with pharma leaders, the event also witnessed interesting and riveting discussions on various pivotal aspects of public health.
To cite a few examples, an interesting discussion on Strengthening Public-Private Partnerships in healthcare saw industry stakeholders highlight that PPPs in healthcare should be designed on outcomes and not on inputs. Experts also stressed that if the intent is good and true, PPPs in healthcare will succeed. Both, the government and the private sector should ensure focus on ‘value for all’ and not just ‘value for money’.
Likewise, a discussion on New Age New Realities revolved around demographic shifts and societal changes, which in turn, are giving rise to varied public health challenges and demanding new directions as well as approaches in the delivery of healthcare. It also explored all-inclusive strategies to deal with these issues.
Another discussion on ‘Why public health schemes fail in India?’, emphasised how better collaboration, improved synergies, more healthcare resources, effective use of technology are crucial to improve the success rate of health schemes in India. The discussion also highlighted that healthcare schemes need to be planned and built after considering the geographical and social conditions. Therefore, state-specific schemes might be more successful.
Addressing the quality paradox among medicines and services was also one of the discussions at Healthcare Sabha 2018. It highlighted the need to ensure quality at each level of our public health system – be it procurement of quality medicines and medical devices or providing quality health services. It also focussed on providing a national framework for quality which will facilitate consistent implementation of quality improvement processes in every day public health practices.
The event also saw state health representatives from Jharkhand, Odisha etc, present the healthcare scenario in their state and the government’s initiatives to improve the public health system within these states. Representatives of railway hospitals also presented case studies of their programmes and endeavours to showcase their significance in the public health system of the country.
The event also witnessed attendance from leaders, regulators, patrons and game changers who addressed very crucial issues and aspects of public health in India.
Dr V K Paul, Member, NITI Aayog spoke on strengthening India’s public health system and how Ayushman Bharat will trigger quality improvement, bring in rationalisation of cost and accountability in the system. He assured that through Ayushman Bharat, the government is attempting to build a health system with a focus on making a gamut of healthcare services available to all.
Lt. General Bipin Puri, VSM, PHS Director General Armed Forces Medical Service who spoke on the role of armed forces in making public health a priority.
Dr S Eswara Reddy, DCG (I), in his special address, emphasised on how pharma regulators in India are keen to create an ecosystem for the industry which will propel progress and deter wrong doings. They are working on enhancing quality and fighting counterfeits through various monitoring and audit measures.
Sujata Rao, Former Health Secretary, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India gave a very thought-provoking address on the ethical dilemmas and emerging challenges in India’s healthcare sector.
Dr Abhay Bang, Director, SEARCH gave a hard-hitting presentation on tribal Health in India. The economic burden due to poor tribal health is around ` 6000 crores. He also recommended measures such as sufficient political representation, better governance, adequate funding and financing mechanisms, ramping up the pool of human resources to improve tribal health.
Thus, there were several learnings from insightful sessions at the two-day event. Apart from knowledge sharing galore, Healthcare Sabha also lauded deserving projects which have paved the path for reforms in the current public health scenario with Express Healthcare Public Health Awards.