A leading Indian health expert has suggested greater collaboration between the US and India to meet the healthcare challenge with new tools to transform its delivery, such as through information technology.
Calling the healthcare challenge 'solvable'' at an interactive session on 'US and India: Innovating Health Care' here Tuesday, Dr. Prathap Reddy, chairman of the Apollo Group of Hospitals, said that it was a key area where the US and India can work together.
Speaking at the event organized jointly by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Reddy lauded the ongoing efforts in the US to digitise healthcare data through Electronic Medical Records and hoped that such techniques would be brought to India as well.
He also acknowledged the tremendous contributions made by research organizations in the US in diagnosis, methodology, innovation, research and technology in the healthcare sector. Applying existing innovations from US, Europe and other parts to countries like India is thus critical, said Reddy who pioneed the concept of corporate hospitals in India in the eighties after returning from the US where he a had a very successful practice as a leading heart surgeon.
"The three biggest challenges India faces in the healthcare sector are: paucity of hospital beds for people; lack of skilled health human resources; and rise in both infectious and non-communicable diseases," he said.
India is facing alarming numbers of cases of heart disease, cancer and diabetes, Reddy said. For example, the number of diabetes cases in India, earlier projected at 36 million by 2020, has already surpassed 75 million. Soon, one out of every five diabetic patient in the world will be Indian.
Noting that comparable surgeries in India cost one-tenth of the price in the US, he said high quality healthcare and cost benefit is hence a major priority area.
Karl Inderfurth, Wadhwani Chair in US-India Policy Studies at CSIS, kicked off the session and highlighted the increase in US-India cooperation across key sectors such as security, energy, defence, science and technology among others.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at email@example.com)