The healthcare sector will be India’s “cure pill” for the ailing global economy, says the chairperson of the healthcare major Apollo hospitals. “Healthcare sector can be a cure pill for the current economic global crisis. It can prove to be the largest industry and in these times of layoffs, can provide millions of jobs,” Prathap C Reddy, chairperson of Apollo hospitals, told reporters here Friday. Reddy, who is also the head of the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) national committee on healthcare, was speaking at a press briefing held to reveal CII recommendations to the Indian government. The CII recommends that the government introduce a stimulus package of an estimated Rs.500 billion (50,000 crore) in the form of a ‘health development fund’ that will push other funds and banks to come the healthcare way and accord healthcare sector a Infrastructure or priority status. “The healthcare sector has the potential of 40 million jobs directly and an additional 20 million as support or supply link jobs,” Reddy said. Reddy also emphasized the need for increasing the human resources in the industry. “Currently there are around 850,000 hospital beds in the country – we need to increase this by 100,000 every year for the next 10 years. The present number of 700,000 doctors should be doubled and 800,000 nurses be tripled. For this we need dedicated institutions and training,” Reddy said. The CII’s assessment on increasing the number of hospital beds is based upon the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommendations that at least one bed be made available to every 600 people. Currently India stands at one bed for every 1100 people, Reddy said. “The healthcare sector’s contribution to the GDP can be facilitated to increase from less than 6 percent to 12 percent,” Reddy added. The other CII recommendations given included that the government should extend income tax benefits to companies and key players like the on-going five year tax holiday scheme. “These recommendations will need time to be implemented. The timing I feel is good, as parties will be drawing up their manifestoes in which these recommendations can be incorporated,” Reddy said. “Healthcare sector is sure to boom. So many medium and large funds are waiting for the go-ahead signal. This could really be India’s answer to the ongoing economic crisis,” Reddy concluded.