As a young citizen of India, armed with technology, knowledge and love for my nation, I realize, small aim is a crime —Stanza of Song of Youth by Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam
In true spirit of the lines above Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, fondly known as the People’s President and the Missile Man, had envisioned a Developed India through his India Vision 2020 document. Healthcare was identified as a key focus area to achieve this vision of a Developed India. Indigenous, focused R&D to solve for healthcare problems in India was and is the need of the hour. Addressing a gathering in Bangalore on January 10, 2010, Dr. Kalam stressed on the need of affordable healthcare for all in India.
Kalam Institute of Health Technology (KIHT), named after this visionary scientist cum statesman, was setup with the support of Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), a Public Sector Undertaking of Department of Biotechnology to bring increased access to affordable health products to citizens and a thriving medical devices manufacturing sector in India. KIHT works towards enabling the medical device industry in India which is largely import dependent leading to high costs of healthcare. KIHT works on 3 core areas of a) Facilitating focused R&D b) Technology transfer enabling upscale of prototypes c) Market access which will lead to access to healthcare for patients. Inspired by the vision of Dr. Kalam making healthcare affordable and available is at the core of the KIHT philosophy.
KIHT will facilitate focused research on Critical Technology Links(CTLs) of medical devices. As a country, it is imperative that investments into R&D are made in areas where there is maximum benefit for the Indian society. KIHT organizes regular workshops where experts from industry and academia meet to brainstorm of key areas of research where India is dependent on Imports. The findings of these sessions are then shared with funding agencies to ensure funds reach critical research areas. The Kalam-Raju stent which was developed indigenously by Dr.Kalam and his team in collaboration with Dr. B. Soma Raju of the Care Foundation is a great example of industry-academia collaboration. India’s import dependency for cardiac stents was making such stents unaffordable. This Kalam-Raju stent brought the cost of stents down by almost 75%. KIHT will be facilitating focused research on technologies based on burden of disease and which are high import dependent through their Cell for Research & Development (CRD). Facilitating focused and target oriented R&D by providing critical knowledge to relevant institutions.
R&D towards new product development needs to move from prototypes to full-fledged products which can then actually reach patients. KIHT through its Cell for Technology Transfer (CTT) works towards enabling this technology transfer. Research organizations, individual innovators, start-ups, academic institutes can identify and partner with appropriate companies with the help of the CTT team at KIHT for commercialization of their innovations. The financial consideration received for such innovations through commercialization can then be funnelled back to enable further innovation thus creating an ecosystem which fosters innovation. Dr. Kalam in an address on the occasion of Technology Day 2006, identified technology transfer as a key stage in affecting economic competitiveness of a product. The CTT team aims to achieve successful technology transfers in the field of medical devices.
The Kalam-Raju tablet developed again by Dr. Kalam and Dr. B Soma Raju served delivery of the right medical aid through technology coupled with access to a knowledge platform. The tablet enabled primary level healthcare workers to make informed decisions thus improving healthcare access and quality. Drawing a parallel in the medical device space the Cell for Innovation and Market Access (CIM) aims at enabling creation and adoption of medical device specific industry standards, technology upgrades in manufacturing, skill development programs which will lead to Indian products being at par with global competitors and thus enabling economic viability and improved delivery of healthcare.
CIM will also work towards addressing concerns like trade barriers, technical barriers, operational challenges which can impair the manufacturing and trade of medical devices.
KIHT is working towards the goal of affordable and accessible healthcare for all as set in the India Vision 2020 document. However, this cannot be achieved by one entity. In the health care sector the consumers, healthcare providers, insurance providers all need to invest in building the ecosystem across best practices, knowledge sharing and empowering the patient to make informed decisions. Sustaining, evolving, maturing the entire healthcare system in India is a project for all stakeholders to drive cohesively.