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Signing of MOC between India-Japan in healthcare

New Delhi:  The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, today gave its approval for the signing of a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) in the field of healthcare between the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of India and the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan. The signing of this MoC will benefit people of both countries. The Memorandum of Cooperation covers the following areas of cooperation:- i. Human resource development, such as training programs for medical practitioners, nurses and public health professionals. ii. Health financing towards universal health coverage, through sharing of experiences in the public health insurance system. iii. Healthcare service delivery including technical exchange to improve quality of care. iv. Healthcare system governance and management, including sharing of know-how on management of hospitals and community healthcare centers. v. Health information systems, including sharing of experiences and technology regarding telemedicine and electronic-health information system. vi. Pharmaceuticals and medical devices. vii. Health research. viii. Disease surveillance. ix. Traditional medicines, and x. any other areas as may be mutually decided upon. A Working Group will be set up to further elaborate the details of cooperation and to oversee the implementation of this MoC. Meanwhile, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Health Minister, has stated that India’s health care sector is set for unprecedented growth as Shri Narendra Modi government’s Universal Health Assurance (UHA) programme will cause an explosion of demand by making medical treatment affordable for the millions who have been excluded for the past seven decades by prohibitive costs.  UHA is in the process of being finalised and will be presented to the nation within the current financial year, the Minister disclosed at the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII)’s 8th Health Insurance Summit, here today. I have set up committees comprising the best possible academic, administrative and technical experts on public health, institutional strengths and weaknesses and, above all, health insurance. Their interim reports are with me and I can disclose at this stage that the future indeed looks good. The health care sector of India is already growing at a CAGR of about 15 percent since 2011 and is today worth about $ 80-85 billion. Independent projections have put the turn-of-decade size in the region of $ 150 billion. But this could have been under-estimation as UHA was not factored in, he said. Dr Harsh Vardhan said, “I believe that India’s health sector will see the same revolution as the one witnessed in mobile telephony in the early 2000s. Back then it was Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee government’s bold decision to make incoming calls free which kick-started it. Industry contributed by introducing the pre-paid system for small subscribers. Now it will be Shri Narendra Modi’s UHA which will transform the health sector resulting in wide social and economic benefits. I invite you all to come aboard.” The Health Minister said that just as millions of new jobs were thrown open by the mobile telephone revolution, the health care boom will stimulate a huge downstream. The MSME sector will be given special advantages because government will become the biggest marketplace for buying and selling of health care goods and services, he said.  He cautioned the private sector of the high benchmarks for transparency, quality and consumer protection in the evolving UHA. At the same time, the government is aware of its own responsibilities, he said. “The Information Technology component in UHA will be so strong and tamper-proof that corruption and sleaze will be absolutely impossible. The consumer, i.e. the patient, will be treated as king. Anti-competitive practices and consumer rights violation will be dealt with through a regulatory body. One of the biggest challenges, Dr Harsh Vardhan observed, would be to keep up the supply of doctors and technical personnel. The present doctor to population ratio -1:1700- needs to be improved. A great number of technical personnel in diagnostics, radiology, etc. are also necessary, he said. “The expansion of the health sector will be felt in Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) as well. The 21st century belongs to holistic medicine and I intend making AYUSH a way of life because most of the ailments with which people report to doctors can easily be treated by these forms of therapy. I have already formed a committee to suggest steps for expansion of holistic health care through development of protocols,” Dr Harsh Vardhan said. The Minister disclosed that the government has already firmed up plans to give medical education a fillip. As far as possible existing district hospitals all over India would be provided with funds to add medical colleges to their campuses.  Please be patient and prepare for the coming explosion of business and jobs,  was Dr Harsh Vardhan’s advice. “We cannot hope to have Health for All without a social movement at its core. Let government and private sector pool synergies and make making people healthy good business.”

About Sanjay Trivedi

Sanjay Trivedi is honorary editor of Asia Times. He is senior Indian Journalist having vast experience of 25 years. He worked in Janmabhoomi, Vyapar, Divya Bhaskar etc. newspapers and TV9 Channel as well as www.news4education.com. He also served as Media Officer in Gujarat Technological University.

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