India's healthcare infra can get boost post Covid-19: Jitendra Singh
New Delhi: Union Minister Jitendra Singh on Friday said that India's healthcare infrastructure can receive a major boost, post novel coronavirus phase "if planned judiciously".
His remarks came during discussion on post-Covid healthcare issue with top professionals of country's medical fraternity, the corporate hospital sector, leading research bodies and medical economists.
"If planned judiciously with insight, this could be an opportunity to develop India's future healthcare infrastructure not only of world class standard but also as a major contributor to the country's economy," Singh said.
In a one-and-half hour long video conference meeting, that included Dr V. Mohan, internationally renowned diabetologist from Chennai; Dr Naresh Trehan, the CMD of Medanta; Dr Devi Shetty, Chairman, Narayana Health, Bengaluru; Dr Sangeeta Reddy, Joint MD, Apollo Hospitals; Kiran Majumdar Shaw, CMD Biocon Bengaluru; Dr Shekhar Mande, DG, CSIR; Dr D. Sundararaman from Puducherry; Dr Shakti Gupta from AIIMS New Delhi; Dr Rathin Roy, Director NIPFP New Delhi; Professor K. Srinath Reddy, President DHFI, New Delhi; and Dr Yogesh Jain from Chhattisgarh.
In his opening remarks, the Minister said that having dealt with the first phase of Covid pandemic with exemplary diligence and professionalism, time has come for India to plan for the post-Covid phase and to strategise how best this adversity can be converted into an opportunity to reinforce the country's healthcare infrastructure to meet the future needs.
Singh said that another concern of the medical fraternity is that while they discharge their responsibility to conquer the Covid challenge, they should not be inadvertently neglecting the non-Covid patients, including those suffering from non-communicable diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cancer, which continue to have high mortality rate despite the presence of Covid and at the same time also contribute to mortality in the Covid patients by way of being a co-morbidity.
Even after the lockdown is over, the Minister said, the battle against Covid may continue and may call for a large scale or mass screening of the population.
The liability of doing this will also have to be weighed in the light of any future planning for health care, he added.
During the discussion, there was emphasis on the need for high level of surveillance and classification of Covid cases depending upon severity.
"The psychological fall-out of it also came up for discussion," said a Ministry of Personnel statement.
While discussing the economy, the statement said, the opinion was the health sector should be given much higher priority in any future planning so that it becomes a major component of India's economy.
At the same time, the manufacturing and pharma sector in India should be given impetus particularly at a time when most of the countries of the world will prefer to do business with India. Other suggestions put forward included various options to give financial stimulus to the existing health sector.
Preventive health care, including in case of non-Covid conditions like non-communicable diseases, was also discussed in detail, it said.
The discussion was held at a time when the country is passing through the third phase of lockdown that began on May 4 for 14 days.
The nationwide lockdown was imposed after March 24 to contain the Covid-19 pandemic. The first phase was for 21 days. It was extended till May 3 in second phase.