The theme for this year’s World Health Day is ‘Universal health coverage: everyone, everywhere’. Universal health coverage should ensure preventive, curative, rehabilitative, and palliative health services but in a way that does not cause financial hardship to the beneficiaries. While the National Health Policy in this year’s budget was broad based and included several provisions for different segments of the society, a more proactive approach is needed in this area. The World Health Day is a reminder for all stakeholders concerned to recognize the challenges and act with immediate effect.
The following healthcare experts come together to share their views and expectations on World Health Day.
Rekuram Varadharaj, Co-founder and COO, healthi:
“Health for all is a lofty goal that can only be attained by paying due attention to disease prevention, in addition to curative health. Despite rising awareness, growing investments by enlightened employers and the government, and the increasing availability of well-qualified practitioners and facilities, India continues to lead the world in prevalence and risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. The toll taken by such diseases on individuals, families and our country is not only in the form of direct healthcare costs, but also due to the opportunity costs related to lost productivity and strain on healthcare resources.
Recent advances in technology can be a key and vital enabler for making preventive health more effective. At healthi, we’re seeing increasing evidence that technology empowers users to take charge of their health and prevent chronic conditions. Government support for such technology solutions that help improve the efficacy of chronic disease prediction and management of chronic conditions would go a long way in helping pre-empt chronic disease burden in the future and allay the costs associated with it.”
Dr Minal Vohra, Medical Advisor, BeatO:
Non-communicable diseases are on the rise in India and among them, Diabetes Mellitus is slowly assuming a pandemic form. It is a chronic condition that can affect any one irrespective of their age, gender, demographics or location and hence, it is equally prevalent in rural India as among the urban population. This is where universal access to healthcare assumes importance. While those in the higher economic strata can afford treatment, those who do not have the financial ability or access to quality care such as continuous glucose monitoring and standard diabetes care may end up with its associated complications and other comorbid conditions. There is certainly a need for government intervention in this area in terms of policies as also support to startups working in this area. BeatO, for instance is a holistic diabetes management solution, a venture that is working exclusively towards improving treatment outcomes for those with this disorder. Such efforts need to be encouraged with proactive measures.
Dr Sunita Maheshwari, Co-Founder,
Teleradiology Solutions and RXDX clinics:
Telemedicine and tele health is re-defining access to healthcare in many ways and can help in achieving the objective of universal access to quality healthcare. Technology can improve access and reduce costs of delivering healthcare to the remotest areas of the country, as we have demonstrated for several years now. It is imperative that we come up with smart solutions. For instance, solutions that will provide real-time critical patient information to enable quick diagnosis and treatment planning. The government has rolled out a very favorable health policy in this year’s budget. What is required now is further impetus and action. Though there may be challenges, it is also true that these coexist with opportunities. On World Health Day, it is time to translate tele health and digital India policies into action; results will follow. This can happen only when the government works collaboratively with groups in India that are focusing on making solutions and services to enable ‘health for all’ to become a reality.
Ameera Shah, Managing director and Promoter, Metropolis Healthcare Ltd., “Universal Healthcare Coverage is a noble idea, and I believe that every human being deserves the right to quality medical attention, regardless of their ability to pay. While seeing it implemented on a large scale will likely take a while, it certainly pleases me to observe that as a nation, we are now paying more attention to healthcare affordability. The big-ticket promise of ‘National Health Protection Scheme’, now officially termed as ‘Ayushman Bharat’ signals the government’s intention in the right direction. Metropolis will be happy to partner with the government and other industry bodies in achieving this vision. I truly hope that we become a nation where none has to choose between financial hardship and death”