An Innovation Council for Healthcare in India

The union health ministry has just formed an innovation council for healthcare in India. Newstrack India reports that the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) is the appointed industry partner for the new council. The council follows, in part, a working paper on ‘reinventing affordable and universal health care through innovation’, released by biotechnology department Secretary K. Vijaya Raghavan at an event recently. The paper highlighted the need for 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 in Bangalore. Newstrack reports:

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.

“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.

This kind of cross-sectoral collaboration for healthcare innovation is especially necessary, given the low indicators in India, accompanied by the prohibitively high costs:

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.

This unique new council is not only a positive development for the healthcare sector in India, but could also serve as a model for innovation councils in other sectors as well. While the National Innovation Council had mandated that all states in India would have their own innovation councils, a mandate for sector-specific innovation councils is also well worth pursuing.

About Ayesha Vemuri

Ayesha Vemuri is responsible for thought leadership and outreach efforts at CKS. She has undergraduate degree in Visual Art from Reed College in Portland, Oregon, where she also studied such varied subjects as biology, literature and the humanities. At CKS, she is responsible for curating the Design Public blog, managing our various social media platforms, organizing Pecha Kucha Nights and contributing to the intellectual content of the Design Public Conclave and other CKS initiatives. Find her on twitter at @ayeshavemuri.
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