Growing at 18 percent annually, today Indian healthcare is the one of the fastest growing industries. However, that data may not be good enough to guarantee for quality service delivery. In fact, various challenges need to be addressed for making health services more accessible, affordable, ensuring the quality of patient care. However, what apparently looks like a challenge is, in fact, a huge opportunity for the private service providers, and the Government is also playing its part in facilitating this evolution.
While Universal Health Coverage (UHC) lies at the heart of the Governments healthcare agenda, the various initiatives kicked off by the Government of India have only gone on to further strengthen UHC. Some of the recently-launched as well as proposed new initiatives, like plan to set up 20 cancer hospitals and 50 general ones; increased government focus on the secondary care, reflected in the allocation of `200 crore for 58 districts hospitals; and its determination to make India first country on the globe to have cardiac ICU unit in each of its states, etc., are examples to show how the government is trying to turnaround the way healthcare industry in the country.
In this context, the State of Uttar Pradesh must find a mention here for its certain innovative steps to strengthen the healthcare delivery network. It plans to launch soon about 150 mobile medical units under the Public – Private Partnership (PPP) model under a National Mobile Medical Unit Project to widen the outreach of services to remote areas. Also, to make healthcare more accessible, the State Government is also planning to provide smartphones and tablets to Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) and Auxiliary Nurse Midwives (ANMs). About 1,719 tablets and 10,252 smartphones are proposed to be distributed among the fieldlevel workers.
Despite the good intention of the powers-that-be, challenges dotting the way to success threaten to derail the Governments health agenda. An interaction with the stakeholders in the sector suggests that the solution to this uphill task rests in roping in private participation. With its limited resources and already-underpressure bandwidth, the Government alone cannot achieve the goal of Healthcare for All. For that matter, even the private sector cannot make it all by itself. So, the need of the day is that both go hand-in-hand using the PPP model.
With a view to highlight the Governments initiatives and complement its efforts, as also to identify the stumbling blocks, eHealth talked to a crosssection of people, including policymakers, decision-makers, prominent industry leaders operating in the space, hospital administrators, doctors and, of course, those availing the healthcare services. We present their views in this issue to help understand better the challenges involved and throw up possible solutions to make a healthier India.