New Delhi: Vice-president M. Venkaiah Naidu on Friday stressed the need to promote indigenous manufacturing of medical equipment to overcome a paradoxical situation in the health sector, where a range of treatments are available for foreigners but are out of reach for many local people.
Addressing the 46th annual convocation of AIIMS, Mr Naidu said it is estimated that the out-of-pocket expenditure constitutes more than 60 per cent of all health expenses, a major drawback in a country like India where a large segment of the population is poor.
Union health minister J.P. Nadda and the director of AIIMS, Dr Randeep Guleria, were also present on the occasion.
“We have a paradoxical situation when it comes to the health sector. India is making rapid strides in medical tourism with people from other countries coming to our country for a range of treatments — from liver transplant to knee replacement. However, the same treatment is out of reach for many Indians. We need to overcome this paradoxical situation by ensuring that treatment is affordable for all Indians,” Mr Naidu said.
He added that an important step in this direction will be to promote manufacturing of state-of-the-art devices and equipment in the country, particularly under the ‘Make in India’ programme.
“Such a move will not only save precious foreign exchange for us, it will also bring down the costs of devices,” he said.
The vice-president further said that with a majority of the population — particularly the poor and lower middle classes — meeting most of the health expenditure on their own, the government has launched the ‘Ayushman Bharat Yojana’ to cover more than 10 crore vulnerable families by providing coverage of upto Rs 5 lakh per family per year. This will be a game changer in terms of accessing healthcare services in the country.
Expressing concern over the absence of qualified medical practitioners in rural areas, Mr Naidu said there is a need to increase the number of doctors available at healthcare centres in these areas and also incentivise the rural doctors.