Having led several key projects and health technology initiatives and research in leading institutions from New Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Science to World Health Organisation-Switzerland, Dr Jitendar Kumar Sharma, Director & CEO of the AMTZ Limited and Advisor (Health), Government of Andhra Pradesh, is a force to reckon with when it comes to guiding the ongoing healthcare revolution in the country. In an interview with Elets News Network (ENN), Dr Sharma speaks in detail on how medical technology landscape in India is witnessing a paradigm shift, his personal contribution to make it possible besides the ways to harness the “cumulative potential of health as well as medical technology”.
As a healthcare leader with experience in supporting the entire range of healthcare delivery systems from a primary health centre to World Health Organisation, how do you plan to change the health and medical technology landscape in India?
Medical technology landscape in a country can change for better only with coherent synergies of a large number of individuals, agencies and institutions. However, for it to change, we will also need to philosophically find the convergence between service delivery and industry promotion. These are generally seen as two distinct activities. However, the reality is that service delivery fuels consumption which is the core of demand generation and industry promotion. Similarly, balanced industry promotion with judicious use of resources could make service delivery more affordable. What we intend doing is to connect these two paradigms to harness the cumulative potential of health as well as medical technology.
You have done pioneering work for establishing medical devices testing laboratories in India, initiating programme for tracking of medical devices adverse event and other such projects. Please provide us a brief overview of your key achievements in the fi eld of healthcare.
My role as the head of healthcare technology division started with rationalisation of specifications to ensure competitive bidding. Thereafter, we started the equipment maintenance programme in public private partnerships for effective upkeep. This has been a unique and highly successful programme which has increased the upkeep time of available medical equipment as well as initiated a large market for spares and accessories. In parallel, reports were drafted for setting up of first dedicated medical devices testing laboratories in which we played a crucial technical role. Efforts were also made to start the medical devices adverse events reporting system in the country which was taken by Indian Pharmacopoeia Commission with support of Sree- ChitraTirunal Institute of Medical Sciences & Technology. Fortunately, the Department of Healthcare Technology at NHSRC was recognised as the WHO collaborating centre for medical devices making it the only med tech centre of such recognition in the entire South-East Asia.
In your role as the CEO of Andhra Pradesh MedTech Zone Ltd, what are the opportunities in the offi ng for the Indian equipment manufacturers at this fi rst of its kind facility in Asia?
The creation of Andhra Pradesh Med- Tech Zone (AMTZ) is based on the fact that medical devices manufacturing requires certain high investment facilities which are too capital intensive for individual manufactures to invest upon. A park with in-house high investment scientific facilities would help manufacturers reduce the cost of manufacturing. While the park would have all such facilities in-house to reduce manufacturing process costs, it would have state-of-the-art 250-300 independent manufacturing units, each over a built-in ready to use area in 1 acre, 0.50 acre or 0.25acre at a very cost effective long term lease rate for 33 years. Located in an area which is well connected with railways, roadways, waterways and airways with near presence of industrial corridors, port and harbour to reduce logistical costs, AMTZ in Visakhapatnam is India’s first medical device manufacturing zone spread over 270 acres.
What are the key challenges you have been facing in implementing the AMTZ project?
There are no challenges that cannot be resolved with effective partnerships with stakeholders. In AMTZ, the tremendous support of manufacturers and scientific service providers has made our journey effortless.
What are the key issues being faced by the Indian medical equipment manufacturers? How can these be resolved?
The two issues faced by the Indian medical equipment manufacturers are perhaps – support to meet quality benchmarks, and non-tariff barriers such as near absence of medical device regulations. Fortunately, while AIMED and Quality Council of India have come up with IC-MED which is a voluntary certification scheme, appropriate authorities with Government of India are putting all efforts to put in regulatory regime in place.
Please share your views on inclusive healthcare in India. How government is involved in making this a reality?
Recent launch of National Diagnostics Programme including tele-radiology and CT scan facility in public hospitals, National Dialysis Programme and a plethora of such pro-public initiatives are creating the right balance of access, supply and partnerships required a bubbling healthcare eco-system. We are striving now to achieve the right balance between involvement of public health institutions in core clinical activities and undertaking strategic purchasing of non-core clinical functions such as equipment maintenance and the like.
The creation of Andhra Pradesh MedTech Zone (AMTZ) is based on the fact that medical devices manufacturing requires certain high investment facilities which are too capital intensive for individual manufactures to invest upon. A park with inhouse high investment scientific facilities would help manufacturers reduce the cost of manufacturing.
How technology can aid healthcare for all?
Technology is the sole strategy that can democratise skills and resources available in the country for optimum healthcare outcomes.