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COVID-19: Indian health care comes of age

All stakeholders take note of marked improvements in Indian medicare system, call for innovation and continuity

January 29, 2021 / 05:38 PM IST

COVID-19 has brought drastic improvement in health care standards, infrastructure, the state of hospitals and peoples’ attitude towards public health in India.

At the Ninth edition of the OPPI Annual Summit 2020 - Healthcare FeatuAccelerated, Reimagining India's Healthcare in the next decade, country’s leading policy makers, members of the healthcare fraternity, heads of pharmaceutical companies, medical experts, NGOs and global think tanks converged to discuss diverse aspects of healthcare access, offering potential solutions.

Who’s who of the health sector

Among the top-notch speakers who graced the occasion included D. V. Sadananda Gowda, Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers and Mansukh Mandaviya, Minister of State for Shipping, Chemicals and Fertilizers. They were joined by S Aparna, Secretary, Department of Pharmaceuticals, Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers.

Others present at the high-profile summit were Neerja Birla, Founder & Chairperson, Aditya Birla Education Trust, Shamika Ravi, Director, Research, Brookings; Manisha Shridhar, Regional Adviser, WHO and Malti Jaswal, Senior Consultant World Bank Group.

Industry leaders

Industry leaders who postulated included Rajaram Narayan, MD Sanofi; Ratna Devi, Board Chair IAPO; Joy Chakraborty, COO, PD Hinduja Hospital; Dr. Y. K. Gupta, President AIIMS, Bhopal and Jammu; Vaidheesh Annaswamy, Managing Partner, North Star Asia LLP; Krishnan Ramachandran, MD and CEO, Max Bupa Health Insurance and Sarthak Ranade, MD Janssen India.

The summit was well represented by global experts like Jaak Peeters, Johnson and Johnson, Special Envoy for COVID-19 vaccine; Andrew Blasi, Director, Crowell and Moring and Sofie Melis, Director HR and Ethics Compliance, IFPMA.

Narendra Mantena, Head Global Strategy and CEO, Biological E; Vikas Chauhan, Co-Founder 1mg; Dr. Ganapathy Krishnan Director, Apollo Telemedicine Network Foundation and Jaidev Rajpal, Partner, McKinsey and Company, reflected on the new technologies that had come into the health sector, thanks to the pandemic and the opportunities it had created in the bargain.

Sharad Tyagi, President OPPI and Manging Director, Boehringer Ingelheim India; K. G. Ananthakrishnan, Director General, OPPI and Nitika Garg, Director, Research, OPPI also spoke at the summit.

Pharmaceutical industry comes for high praise

Praising the contribution of the pharmaceutical industry, both Indian and global, in supporting the government to combat the COVID-19 crisis, Minister Sadananda Gowda said that the government and the industry worked hand in hand to meet the increased demand for testing and treatment. He also pointed out the role of global and Indian companies in coming out with vaccines in the shortest possible time.

He said that while essentials were imported when COVID-19 broke out, today Indian manufacturers are producing about five lakh PPE kits and three lakh N-95 masks per day in addition to three lakh ventilators per annum.

Minister of state Mandaviya said that India had proved itself to be a world leader in pharmaceuticals and asserted that the government believed in promoting the pharmaceutical industry as well as making medicines available for the poor. Pharmaceuticals Secretary S Aparna said that the pandemic had forced companies and individuals to take a hard look at how they functioned.

All stakeholders on board

Sharad Tyagi said the pandemic showed that all stakeholders came on board - whether it was for supply of medicines, for transport issues or for urgent clearances.

Speakers stressed upon some key takeaways for the health sector. These included:

** Greater transparency of information is now available to patients through websites promoted by the government and various departments.
**India’s health care system now compares favourably with the best in the world.
** India’s patient-centric approach, acquired during the pandemic, must continue at all levels.
** Experts marvelled at the speed with which the world and India had discovered a vaccine that had come in less than 10 months.
** The central stakeholder in the pandemic is the patient and the trust that has built up between him and the health care industry, needed to be pursued.
** COVID-19 had ensured that many consumers as well as health care stakeholders had adopted digital systems.

** The connection between health and hygiene has been established

Collaboration for innovation

Some speakers like Dr. Y. K. Gupta, President AIIMS, Bhopal and Jammu, stressed that tech-driven institutions and biological sciences innovation must work together, rather than in silos.

The industry and the regulator needed to come together to lay down the grounds for innovation.

Krishnan Ramachandran, MD and CEO, Max Bupa Health Insurance said that the pandemic had proved that India is still grappling with challenges that confront health insurance.

Recognising dedication to healthcare through awards

“The OPPI 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award” was given to leading light of Indian pharmaceutical sector Dr. Y. K. Hamied, founder of CIPLA while Dr. V. G. Somani, Drug Controller General of India was honoured for his services to the health sector.

Special Awards were given to bright scientists and innovators like Aparna Hegde, founder, chairperson and managing trustee of Armaan; Harmala Gupta, founder and president CanSupport; Debabrata Dash from the Banares Hindu University was given the OPPI Scientist of the Year Award; Dr. Rituparna Sinha Roy received the Woman Scientist Award and Dr Arun Kumar Shukla from IIT Kanpur, received the Young Scientist Award.

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first published: Jan 29, 2021 05:38 pm
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