Providing affordable health services for all

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Providing affordable health services for all

Monday, 22 May 2023 | Rajesh Singh

Providing affordable health services for all

The government has envisaged a new programme to promote research and innovation in pharmaceuticals through centres of excellence

The recent health hazards, much exacerbated by the Covid pandemic, have made it essential to have high quality, affordable and accessible health services equitably available for all, irrespective of any boundaries. The pandemic has also brought mental and social health-related issues prominently into the picture. Here, the first Health Working Group meeting under India’s G20 presidency proved very effective in addressing the vulnerabilities and disparities of the systems, besides advocating holistic and universal health and wellbeing. The theme ‘One World, One Health’ widely resonated with the principle of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’. Health priorities like health emergencies, prevention, preparedness, strengthening cooperation and digital health innovation and solutions, were comprehensively discussed, especially when the situation in low- and middle-income countries is worrisome, owing to restricted and uneven healthcare systems.

 Here, putting out a dream of a new, healthy and self-reliant health system and a pledge to make available high-quality, affordable and accessible health services to all, augurs a new age in the domain. Moreover, focusing on increasing health services for various health care systems leveraged with evidence, accreditations and the latest medical technologies, and then connecting the globe through medical value travel, are sure to address the disparities in the system. India’s focus on both evidence-based traditional medicine practices and modern systems would be much helpful in achieving Universal Health Coverage. The attributes of Universal Health Coverage also guide the decision-makers in designing a comprehensive and integrative healthcare system.

 Recognising that the pandemic policy must be a defining part of our health policy, as any health crisis of today leads to a humongous economic crisis of tomorrow in an interconnected world, is now becoming an essential part of the agenda for our preparedness and response together. To meet future health challenges, the budget 2023 has also announced a lot of measures. 157 new nursing colleges are proposed to be established in co-location with the existing 157 medical colleges established since 2014. A mission to eliminate Sickle Cell Anaemia by 2047, will also be launched, which will entail universal screening of seven crore people in the age group of 0-40. For medical research, facilities in select ICMR Labs will be made available for research by public and private medical college faculties and private sector R&D teams for encouraging collaborative research and innovation.

 A new programme to promote research and innovation in pharmaceuticals has also been planned through centres of excellence. The government also plans to encourage the pharma industry to invest in research and development in specific priority areas. The budget also made the focus of the Centre more pronounced to integrate the Ayush system with the National Health ecosystem. Hence, the total allocation to Ayush Ministry has been increased by 20% to Rs 3647 crores, along with emphasizing promoting evidence-based research in Ayush systems through Ayush research councils. With the G20 health meeting and budget 2023 focusing on broadening health services almost simultaneously, the foundation and framework of a global health architecture, envisaging to equip countries to face the next health emergency with robust health care systems, appears to be coming into existence.

(The writer is a Senior Journalist)

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