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Curb technology import for universal healthcare: Report
Monday September 2, 2013 6:31 PM, IANS

There is a need in India to curb the import of medical equipment and focus on indigenous healthcare technology to make procedures and services affordable for all, a report released Monday said.

"About 75 percent of the medical devices in India are imported, so there is a need to promote indigenous medical technology in low-resource settings to drive down the cost of healthcare," read the report, "Universal Health Cover for India 2013".

The report has been released by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) in collaboration with Ernst and Young, a leading professional services organisation, during FICCI Heal 2013.

"The government of India does not provide enough funds to support local innovation. Our government has not been able to take cognisance of the situation like in China and Brazil," said G.S.K. Velu, co-chair of FICCI health services committee.

The report also highlights the need to look after reimbursement mechanisms of the government.

"When we talk about the reimbursement rates, there is a need for the government to focus on patients' safety and award incentive models for hospitals that work to provide good healthcare services," Murli Nair of Ernst and Young said.

The industry leaders also reiterated the need for bringing public-private partnership into play, to achieve universal healthcare.

"The number of people covered under the different government-sponsored healthcare schemes has increased from 37 million (in 2004) to 243 million (in 2010), and is expected to cross 500 million by 2015, which requires that the government has to spend Rs.2,493 billion. For that, it requires to buy healthcare services from private health care," the report said.

However, there is good news for the health industry: Revenues from medical tourism have been constantly increasing. While medical tourism brought Rs.456 billion in 2010, revenues from this source are expected to rise to Rs.620 billion by 2020.

"If the government relaxes the visa fee and makes away with the police verification procedure for people coming to India for health services, then this industry will be one of the largest revenue-generating sectors," said Sangita Reddy, chairman FICCI health services committee.

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