India consistently trying to minimise dependence on foreign countries in health sector: PM Modi

01:00 PM Mar 06, 2023 | PTI |

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday that life-savers like medicines, vaccines and medical devices were weaponised when the COVID-19 pandemic was at its peak, and asserted that his government has been consistently trying to minimise India’s dependence on foreign countries in the health sector.


Addressing a post-budget webinar on ‘Health and Medical Research’, Modi said India’s health sector was marred by a lack of integrated approach and long-term vision for decades after Independence but his government has not confined it to the health ministry alone and has dealt with it with the ”whole of government” outlook.

Our entrepreneurs should ensure India doesn’t have to import any technology and becomes self-reliant, he said, highlighting various measures taken by his government to boost entrepreneurship in the field. ”Today the market size of the pharma sector is 4 lakh crore. It can be worth 10 lakh crore with proper coordination between the private sector and academia,” he said.

Noting that the pandemic tested even prosperous nations, he said as the pandemic focused global attention on health, India went a step further and focused on wellness. “That is why we have put forward a vision before the world – ‘One Earth One Health’. This involves holistic healthcare for all creatures -humans, animals or plants,” he said. The prime minister said ”making treatment affordable has been a top priority of our government” and through the Ayushman Bharat scheme, about Rs 80,000 crore of poor patients was saved. Noting that March 7 is observed as Jan Aushadhi Diwas, the prime minister pointed out that affordable medicines through 9,000 Jan Aushadhi Kendras have saved about Rs 20,000 crore of the poor and middle class. These two schemes have saved one lakh crore rupees of citizens, he observed. Underlining the importance of a strong health infrastructure for the treatment of serious ailments, he said more than 1.5 lakh health centres are being developed in close proximity of residential areas. Facilities for screening serious ailments like diabetes, cancer and heart-related issues will also be available at these centres. The prime minister said critical health infrastructure is being made accessible in small towns and villages under the PM-Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission which is not only giving rise to new hospitals but it is also creating a new and complete health ecosystem. As a result, Modi noted that many opportunities are being created for health entrepreneurs, investors and professionals.

On human resources in the sector, he said more than 260 new medical colleges have been opened in the last few years, doubling the medical seats in graduate and postgraduate medical courses as compared to 2014. The prime minister also spoke about the emphasis on the nursing field in this year’s budget.


“Opening 157 nursing colleges in the vicinity of medical colleges is a huge step in the direction of medical human resources. This may be useful in fulfilling global demand, not just the domestic need”, he added. Modi also highlighted the role of technology in constantly making medical services accessible and affordable and elaborated on the government’s focus on implementation of technology in the sector. “We want to give timely healthcare to citizens through the facility of Digital Health ID. Ten crore people have already benefited by teleconsultation through schemes like e-Sanjivini”, he said, adding 5G is creating new opportunities in this sector for startups while drones are bringing revolutionary changes in medicine delivery and testing services.

“This is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs and will give a push to our efforts for universal healthcare”, he said, exhorting entrepreneurs to avoid import of technology. While giving details of new schemes in the medical device sector, he spoke about bulk drug parks, medical device parks, more than 30 thousand crore on PLI schemes and said the last few years have witnessed 12-14 per cent growth in medical devices sector. He said the market size of the sector is reaching Rs 4 lakh crore in coming years. India, he said, has started work on skilled manpower for future medical technology and high-end manufacturing and research and in institutions like IIT, courses like biomedical engineering will be run.

Highlighting the growing confidence of the world in India’s pharma sector, he said there was a need to capitalise on this and work towards protecting this image. A new programme is being launched to boost research and innovation in the pharma sector through centres of excellence which will strengthen the economy as well as create new opportunities for employment.

“The market size of the pharma sector in India is four lakh crore today”, the prime minister said while stressing the need to find coordination between the private sector and academia as it has the potential to achieve the market size of over 10 lakh crore. The prime minister suggested that the pharma sector identifies important areas for investment. Highlighting several steps taken by the government to further research in this sector, he said many new labs by ICMR have been opened up for the research industry. While noting the impact of the government’s efforts on preventive healthcare, he listed Swacch Bharat Abhiyan for cleanliness, Ujjwala Scheme for smoke-related diseases, Jal Jeevan Mission to tackle waterborne diseases and National POSHAN Mission is addressing anaemia and malnutrition.

He also highlighted the role of millets in the International Year of Millets. Noting the establishment of the global centre for traditional medicine under the aegis of WHO in India, he said efforts should be made for evidence-based research in Ayurveda. Medical tourism is a very large sector in India and also becoming a huge medium for generating employment in the country, he said, adding efforts are being made to make India the world’s most attractive medical tourism destination. The prime minister stressed that a developed health and wellness ecosystem can be created in India only with ‘Sabka Prayas’ (everyone’s efforts) and requested all stakeholders to give their valuable suggestions. “We should be able to implement Budget provisions within the time limit for decided targets with a concrete roadmap. Realising all dreams on the ground before the next Budget while taking all stakeholders along will require the benefit of your experience”, he told the participants.


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