Earlier this month, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi renewed his commitment to making Indian healthcare world-class. In a series of messages on Twitter, PM Modi celebrated World Health Day: “The Government of India is working tirelessly to increase India’s health infrastructure. The focus is on ensuring good quality and affordable health care for our citizens. It makes all Indians proud that our nation is home to the world’s largest healthcare plan, Ayushman Bharat. […] Our focus on affordable health care has secured significant savings for the poor and middle class. At the same time, we are strengthening our Ayush network to further boost overall well-being.”
The prime minister is referring to Ayushman Bharat, a public health insurance fund program backed by the Indian government to provide health care to millions of people who cannot otherwise afford it. The concept is sound, involving the creation of 150,000 government-backed “health and wellness centers” that have a wide range of health care services, including maternal health, immunization services, telemedicine capabilities, yoga and treatments. holistic wellness centers, health education, and drug clinics. . The mission behind the initiative is to provide Indians with a wide-ranging safety net for both essential services and general preventative care. Operating this system will undoubtedly cost the government billions of dollars; however, most analysts believe that this is a worthwhile investment for the country.
In fact, Indian health care has some of the best outcomes in the world, while money spent per patient is relatively conservative. A report published by the Harvard School of Public Health found that India spends about $40 per person annually on health care, while the United States spends about $8,500. A common fallacy of thought in health care is to conflate money spent with results: it is assumed that the greater the expense, the better the results. However, Indian health care outcomes have been found to be comparable, if not better, than their contemporaries, although their spending per patient was lower. In fact, this fallacy regarding health care spending has been proven time and time again: the Commonwealth Fund notes that “The United States spends the most on health care as a share of the economy, almost twice as much as the OECD average. [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development] country, but it has the lowest life expectancy and the highest suicide rates among the 11 nations.”
India has continued to be a global beacon when it comes to healthcare.
Historically speaking, India has always been the global epicenter for pharmaceuticals. I previously wrote about how the country has a prolific pharmaceutical industry that is responsible for producing most of the world’s vaccines and medicines. Furthermore, India’s drug production and research and development infrastructure is second to none, making it a highly sought after investment market for global life sciences companies.
In recent years, India has also significantly boosted its public health efforts. Prime Minister Modi was lauded globally for his swift and decisive actions during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, during which time he mobilized key government infrastructure and healthcare talent to enact the appropriate measures and means to reduce the spread of infection as much as possible. Furthermore, India was one of the first countries with a robust vaccination campaign against Covid-19 and was also one of the first to share its vaccines with other countries. Indeed, this initiative will be etched in the history books for decades to come.
Finally, Indian innovation in the health sector is undoubtedly at its best. For example, the Indian telehealth market is estimated to have a staggering CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of nearly 36.9%, indicating the high interest and investment in this sector. The reality is that India has a significant shortage of doctors, a problem that Prime Minister Modi has recently tried to address with the opening of new state-of-the-art medical schools across the country, many of which are at least partially funded by the government. government. However, the Indian government is simultaneously investing in telemedicine services to help alleviate some of the serious shortages facing rural areas of the country. Big-name healthcare organizations like Apollo and stalwart companies like Tata are leading the charge on this front, setting an example for other industry titans to follow.
Certainly, India has come a long way in the last decade with regards to its healthcare system. As it continually strives to provide its people with world-class infrastructure and services, India’s healthcare system will certainly be one to watch and learn from for decades to come.