As India eagerly awaits the unveiling of the Interim Budget for 2024-25, the spotlight is firmly on the healthcare sector, which has outlined a comprehensive wish list emphasizing the critical need for advancements in healthcare technology and digital health.
The healthcare industry’s fervent call for increased investment in research and development (R&D), infrastructure upgrades, and the prevention of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is complemented by a growing recognition of the pivotal role that healthcare technology plays in transforming the nation’s healthcare landscape.
Currently, India allocates a modest 1.8% of its GDP to healthcare, significantly below the global average of 6%. However, experts suggest that the upcoming budget provides a unique opportunity to bridge this gap, potentially increasing healthcare allocations to 2.5% of GDP, aligning with the recommendations put forth by NITI Aayog. The focus on healthcare technology and digital health is gaining momentum as stakeholders recognize the transformative impact these advancements can have on the overall efficiency, accessibility, and quality of healthcare services.
Sudarshan Jain, Secretary General of the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance, underscores the urgency of accelerating life-sciences innovation and R&D. With the pharmaceutical industry aiming for a valuation of $400-450 billion by 2047, Jain advocates for the implementation of conducive policies, including leveraging tax benefits, to unlock India’s potential as a pharmaceutical powerhouse. The integration of healthcare technology is seen as a key driver in achieving these ambitious goals, facilitating breakthroughs in drug discovery, diagnostics, and personalized medicine.
In addressing the stark disparities in the distribution of healthcare professionals, particularly in rural areas, increased budgetary allocations are called for to upgrade healthcare facilities and enhance patient safety. Ameera Shah, Promoter and Managing Director of Metropolis Healthcare, stresses the need for substantial budgetary increases to incentivize rural healthcare development and bridge the critical shortage of doctors and nurses.
Crucially, as India grapples with the rising burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), healthcare technology emerges as a powerful tool in preventative care and early detection. Dr. Ashutosh Raghuvanshi, MD and CEO of Fortis Healthcare & President of NATHEALTH, highlights the significance of a proactive approach. With over 70% of deaths in India attributed to diabetes and heart disease, Dr. Raghuvanshi urges the government to significantly boost funding for public health programs and screening initiatives, aligning with the objectives of the National Health Mission.
Looking ahead, the upcoming budget has the potential to be transformative for the healthcare technology landscape in India. Increased investments in R&D, digital health infrastructure, and preventative care measures can pave the way for a resilient and technologically advanced healthcare system. As the government aims to ensure universal healthcare accessibility, the integration of healthcare technology is not just a wish but a crucial necessity for the nation’s health and well-being. The healthcare industry and citizens alike eagerly await the budgetary decisions that will shape the future of healthcare technology in India.