Delivering affordable and quality healthcare to India's billion-plus people presents enormous challenges, as the Modi government has found out, after being one year in power.
The promised increased projected spend from 1.2 percent to 2.5 percent of the GDP might just become this government's Achilles' heel.
Sharp reduction in allocation of funds for National Health Mission in the central plan in 2015-16 is a cause for serious concern. The huge assumption that 42 percent transfer of Central Taxes to the States in the form of untied funds would compensate for the shortfall in medical funds needs to be reviewed. If healthcare spending is left to the states, with contractor-intensive sectors taking priority over non-contractor intensive sectors and health not being a contractor intensive sector is very likely to take a backseat. Also, given the precarious state of finances in the states, expecting them to allocate adequate financial recourses for health for 2015-16 is unrealistic. The central government needs to very quickly move toward shouldering a bigger share in overall public spending on health.
The Department of Pharmaceuticals has recently submitted the draft of the National Medical Device Policy 2015, with the objective of strengthening the Make in India initiative in the sector. It would reduce the dependence on imports and set up a strong base for medical devices, especially those having critical implications in terms of affordability and availability for patients. The policy proposes the creation of an autonomous National Medical Device Authority. The Essential Commodities Act as well as the National Medical Pricing Policy will need to be amended too.
This year has seen a strong emerging trend of the medical equipment rental market. Escalating pressure to decrease medical costs, augmenting prevalence of chronic diseases, rising population density, and cost-effectiveness of medical equipment rentals are the key demand drivers. Based on the end-use industry, on account of the rising base of chronic and geriatric patients, the homecare equipment rental market dominated the medical equipment rental market, and expected to maintain its lead. Favorable regulations together with pricing flexibility from the government, and an increase in the vendors' distribution network will fuel growth of this market.