PM Narendra Modi emphasised the role of technology in the health and medical research sector
Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlighted the vision of 'One Earth One Health' while addressing a Post-Budget Webinar on ‘Health and Medical Research’ on Monday. PM Modi stated that the pre and post-Covid pandemic systems might be used to compare healthcare. He pointed that even developed countries were put to the test by the pandemic. Athough the pandemic focused attention on health throughout the world, India moved a step further and concentrated on well-being, Prime Minister Modi said. “That is why we have put forward a vision before the world - One Earth One Health. This involves holistic healthcare for all creatures -humans, animals or plants,” he explained. PM Modi reiterated the importance of learning from the pandemic's impact on the supply chain and expressed concern about life-saving equipment, such as medicines, vaccines, and medical devices, being weaponized during the pandemic's peak. He emphasized that the government has previously tried to reduce India's dependence on foreign nations and stressed the need for all stakeholders to play a role in this regard. Prime Minister Modi also pointed out the lack of an integrated long-term vision for health since India's independence and emphasized the need for a whole-of-the-government approach towards health. AFFORDABLE MEDICAL TREATMENT Mentioning that the Ayushman Bharat scheme has saved around 80 thousand crore rupees for poor patients by providing free treatment, PM Modi said, “Making medical treatment affordable has been the top-most priority of our government.” PM Modi highlighted the upcoming Jan Aushadhi Diwas on March 7, and how affordable medicines through 9000 Jan Aushadhi Kendras have saved about 20 thousand crore rupees for the poor and middle classes in India. He also noted that just these two schemes have saved one lakh crore rupees for citizens. The Prime Minister stressed the importance of establishing a robust healthcare infrastructure to cater to the needs of patients with critical illnesses. He emphasized that the government's primary focus is to set up over 1.5 lakh health centers in close proximity to people's homes, ensuring that testing centers and first-aid facilities are readily available. Furthermore, he stated that these centers will also provide screening facilities for severe ailments such as diabetes, cancer, and heart-related diseases. He also emphasized that critical healthcare infrastructure is being made accessible to small towns and villages under the PM Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission. He added that this initiative not only gives rise to new hospitals but also creates a new and complete health ecosystem, providing numerous opportunities for health entrepreneurs, investors, and professionals. Regarding human resources in the healthcare sector, PM Modi highlighted that over 260 new medical colleges have been opened in recent years, doubling the number of medical seats in graduate and postgraduate medical courses as compared to 2014. “Opening 157 nursing colleges in the vicinity of the medical colleges is a huge step in the direction of medical human resources. This may be useful in fulfilling global demand, not just the domestic need,” PM Modi added. PM Modi emphasized the vital role of technology in ensuring affordable and accessible medical services and discussed the government's focus on implementing technology in the healthcare sector. He spoke about the Digital Health ID initiative and the benefits of teleconsultation schemes such as e-Sanjivini, which have already benefited 10 crore people. OPPORTUNITIES IN THE HEALTHCARE SECTOR Prime Minister Modi highlighted the opportunities for startups in the healthcare sector created by 5G technology and the use of drones for medicine delivery and testing services. He encouraged entrepreneurs to develop and use indigenous technology and emphasized the need for institutional response to support this effort. He also discussed new schemes in the medical device sector, such as Bulk drug parks, medical device parks, and PLI schemes, which have contributed to a 12-14% growth in the medical devices market in recent years, expected to reach 4 lakh crores in the coming years. He noted that India is developing skilled manpower for future medical technology and high-end manufacturing and research, with courses like biomedical engineering being offered at institutions such as IIT. He called for greater collaboration between industry, academia, and the government to advance the healthcare sector. PM Modi acknowledged the reputation of India's pharma sector and emphasized the importance of protecting and building upon it. He announced the launch of a new program that will create centers of excellence to boost research and innovation in the sector, creating opportunities for employment and strengthening the economy. He also noted that the current market size of the pharma sector in India is 4 lakh crores and urged coordination between the private sector and academia to expand the market size beyond 10 lakh crores. He encouraged the pharma sector to identify key areas for investment and highlighted the government's efforts in promoting research, including the opening of new labs by ICMR. The Prime Minister underscored the government's focus on preventive healthcare and highlighted the impact of various initiatives. He mentioned Swacch Bharat Abhiyan for cleanliness, Ujjwala Scheme to tackle smoke-related diseases, Jal Jeevan Mission for waterborne diseases, and National POSHAN Mission to address malnutrition and anemia. In addition, he emphasized the role of millets in the International Year of Millets and various schemes like PM Matru Vandana Yojana, Mission Indradhanush, Yoga, Fit India Movement, and Ayurveda in protecting people from diseases. He also mentioned the establishment of a global center for traditional medicine under the World Health Organization in India and called for evidence-based research in Ayurveda. FOCUS ON MEDICAL TOURISM The Prime Minister emphasized the government's initiatives to enhance India's healthcare infrastructure and medical human resources, emphasizing that these advancements aim to establish India as the world's leading medical tourism destination. He highlighted the enormous potential of the medical tourism industry in India, which is also creating significant employment opportunities in the country. In his concluding remarks, Prime Minister Modi emphasized that the creation of a robust health and wellness ecosystem in India is a collective effort that requires the participation of all stakeholders. He urged them to provide valuable suggestions and work together to implement the provisions of the Budget within the set timelines, with a clear roadmap. He also called for the realization of these initiatives on the ground, with the support and experience of all stakeholders, before the next Budget.