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Elets Conference: Indian Healthcare System Inspiring Latin American Countries- Ambassador, Embassy of Ecuador in India

Hector Cueva Jacome

The Latin American region has seen significant social and economic changes over the past 50 years. However, it is a region with high variation in terms of economic development and health profiles among its population. Hector Cueva Jacome, Ambassador, Embassy of Ecuador in India, elaborative explains the over hiked prices of healthcare facilities in his country Ecuador and other Latin American countries at the Annual Healthcare Summit, Delhi 2019.

“Normally in Latin American continent, we used to think that the technology needs to come from developed countries like Europe, The US, Canada, Japan, etc. But with time we realised that India can provide us affordable, accessible and adaptable technology. After living for almost 5 years in Mumbai and almost 2 years her in Delhi; I can assure you that India has the technology that can develop and not only change can change my country but also worldwide healthcare. Since the time I have been living in India, over the time I have developed 2 great passions; one is agriculture and another is healthcare. So I have spent a lot of time in researching, visiting hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and many such related states and cities in India. And absolutely India possesses great knowledge of providing solutions to healthcare issues. I want to throw light on the scenario of my country and few others in Latin America by quoting few examples. Treatment for Hepatitis will cost around 60 thousand US$ and India it is for only 4500$. The cost of monthly medicines of Hepatitis Prosthetic Cancer in Ecuador costs 4500$ and here in India it costs 900$,” said Hector Cueva Jacome, Ambassador, Embassy of Ecuador in India. Basically the paradigm shift towards adopting of Indian healthcare practices is all a game of numbers. When they are able to receive quality and affordable treatments and medicines in India then why pit a hole in own’s pocket!

Jacome is of the view that, “here you can see and realise that the cost difference is almost twice the Indian cost on an average, which accounts for enormous difference. Also the difference of surgeries and treatments is huge. Therefore our major concern is the high treatment cost and even higher medicinal costs. In 2013, I happened to meet a guy from Chile and in 2014 he called and told me that he was suffering from hepatitis A and asked me to send him medicines. For me, the most obvious and convenient idea which I gave to my friend was to visit India, get an appointment from a doctor, who in turn which prescribe you medicines which you can buy and go back to your country. But, because he was very badly affected with the ailment and was waiting for a liver transplant to happen, therefore he urged me to send him medicines at the earliest. The medicines and treatment in Chile costs more than $60,000 and here in India its only $4500. So at the end I sent him medicines and as of today he is completely healed.”

Between 2005 and 2015, public health expenditure as a proportion of GDP increased in all countries. During this time Out-of-pocket health expenditure also increased in Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Peru and Uruguay, along with the comparator countries between 2005 and 2015. “According to the specialists in US, Obamacare will disappear in next 3-4 years as this act isn’t a sustainable one. Also, Trump wanted to eradicate Obamacare act but if you are aware of the history of this act, the person who helped this act survive was John McCain,” claims Jacome. So in future, few specialists claim that Obamacare is going to disappear as Trump claims this act to be non-sustainable in near future.

Just the way Dubai is known for its exquisite tourist attractions, similarly Jacome wishes to have a country amongst Latin American continent, which would be a catering to all kinds of affordable and accessible healthcare facilities. “Having visited over 30 hospitals in India, I found that majorly they all are providing the unit of medical tourism facility. A month ago, I happened to visit Medanta Hospital and asked if they had patients from Western America, US, Latin America, Europeans etc. to get themselves treated in Medanta or for medicines and to which they replied that they only possessed 1% only. So what is the perspective of the business of healthcare in Latin America as the costings are huge there and treatments too tend to cost higher because of high priced medicines. For one percent, the generic medicines in the US come from India only. But, what is happening in few Latin American countries is that we purchase only one percent of India medicines for our public and private social security. There is no sense of buying medicines from the US and Europe as they ultimately buy medicines from India. So we need to build a bridge and change the scenario as we are not buying mere clothes or toys, it’s a matter of life and death. So basically we should try and build up a city in Latin America which will be catering to the nearest countries so that they don’t have to travel from Latin America to India only in the name of healthcare.”

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