Giving the Indian healthcare industry some food for thought, Karnataka Health Minister KR Ramesh Kumar has said that healthcare should be extended to the people at an affordable cost and the industry needs to set its priorities straight by treating healthcare activity as a service activity rather than a business activity.
“Should healthcare activity in the private sector be considered as a service activity or a business activity? If it is a business activity is there any rational of government empanelling them to take care of people from the downtrodden section?” Asked Ramesh Kumar while addressing the Healthcare Summit-Karnataka, organised recently by the Department of Health and Family Welfare, Government of Karnataka and Elets Technomedia in Bengaluru.
He further added that in certain instances corporate healthcare providers have been “blacklisted by insurance companies”. “It is because service is different and business is different.”
Healthcare should be extended to the people at an affordable cost, the minister said. “Generic medicines are offered by the World Health Organisation and are subjected to all the quality tests. But there is such a wide gap in the cost of generic medicines and branded medicines. It is some times more than 70 per cent. The same ingredients and chemical composition are there in the generic medicine as well as branded medicine. Why are they (pharmaceutical companies) charging so high for branded medicines?” He asked.
Ramesh Kumar called for the industry to “think of trying to introduce an element of humanism into those who are growing at the cost of helpless people”.
“When a patient requires a surgery, say for hernia, he should get the surgery done for hernia only whether it is in a private sector hospital or a government hospital. What could be the variation between the government and the private sector? It is unimaginable,” he lamented.
He also questioned the efficacy of government run primary health centres or apex health centre in the absence of qualified medical staff. “We should not be putting public at risk. We should rather close down all such health centres and privatise the whole thing. It is called maneuvering,” he said.