The union health ministry has formed a national innovation council to build an ecosystem for healthcare products and services across the country. As a leading national trade body, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) will be the industry partner in the initiative. A working paper on ‘reinventing affordable and universal health care through innovation’, released by biotechnology department Secretary K. Vijaya Raghavan at an event recently, recommended a supporting ecosystem to translate benefits of science to society and help citizens access affordable healthcare.
‘There is an urgent need to leverage the human capital in our research institutions. The social impact of translating the medical knowledge into innovation can transform health care delivery,’ Raghavan said at the Healthcare Innovation Sandbox, organised by Ficci at the Robert Bosch Centre . As a platform, Sandbox facilitates stakeholders to partner with tech-entrepreneurs to develop products and components and help the industry gain global competitiveness. ‘Sandbox brings inventors, innovators, investors, industry, academia and the government on a common platform to mentor and build an ecosystem for providing universal and affordable health care,’ Ficci director Shobha Mishra Ghosh said on the occasion.
With the central government declaring this decade (2010-2020) as the ‘Decade for Innovations’, a new science, technology and innovation policy was framed early this year to increase the research and development (R&D) expenditure to two percent of the GDP (gross domestic product) from the current 0.84 percent out of which 74 percent is public funded.
‘There is a need to develop sustainable innovation strategies to tackle the multifarious health related challenges and increase private sector participation in R&D in innovation,’ Ghosh pointed out.
The high cost of healthcare is pushing three percent of the 1.27-billion population to slip below poverty line (BPL) every year. About 80 percent of urban households and 90 percent of their rural counterparts find average cost of in-patient treatment to be half of their annual expenditure.
‘As a result, 12-15 percent of reported ailments remain untreated due to unaffordable cost. With the country’s unique demographic needs becoming challenging, innovative technologies should be developed for use by community health workers,’ Ficci healthcare innovation task force chairman and Johnson and Johnson India managing director Sushobhan Dasgupta said on the occasion.
Innovations such as No Touch Breast Scan developed by Drexel University, telemedicine model by World Health Partners, HD Phonodoc for screening of rheumatic heart disease in school children and Lullaby LED PT for curing neonatal jaundice by Wipro GE Healthcare were flagged at the day-long event. Indian Institute of Science (IISc) director P. Balaram said the need of the hour was to industry and academia to engage in taking the results of advanced scientific research to the benefit of society.
‘The objective of the novel initiative is to promote and nurture entrepreneurial efforts of small and medium industries to leverage innovations,’ OneBreath Inc chief executive A. Vijaysimha noted.