Why health policies must consider the entire value chain, from prevention, diagnosis, treatment to insurance coverage

Union budget 2022-23: the experience of the COVID-19 crisis has already highlighted the challenges facing the health sector

Indian Union Budget 2022: India must modernize its health sector. AFP

Although healthcare has always been an evolving field focused on new therapies, drugs, diagnostic techniques, preventative medicine and constant research, it was the COVID-19 pandemic that caught the eye. on our preparation to face a health crisis.

The transformation of the healthcare industry through the pandemic has been inspiring – whether it’s scaling up testing, setting up COVID care hubs, scaling up hospital infrastructure, the tireless efforts of frontline workers or the vaccination campaign. The progress we have made in a short time has been phenomenal. The past two years have highlighted the importance of boosting immunity and focusing on overall health.

COVID-19 has also highlighted the role of diagnostics as we increase capacity, capability and accessibility of testing across the country and educate the broader community about its importance. Besides routine pathology testing, genetic testing and sequencing have gained prominence with new emerging viral strains.

Existing infrastructure, policies

India’s National Health Policy, released in 2017, called for India to spend at least 2.5% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on the health sector by 2025. India has spent 1 .8% of its GDP to health in 2020-21; it was 1 to 1.5% in previous years.

The Lancet Commission on Diagnosis recently presented its recommendations in October 2021 which highlighted the gap in primary healthcare. Poor, marginalized, young or less educated people have the least access to diagnostics and poor accessibility, resulting in 50% of patients going untreated for common conditions like diabetes, hypertension, HIV, hepatitis, malaria and tuberculosis. The report emphasizes that diagnostics are central to the accurate identification of communicable and non-communicable diseases, to guide therapy, monitor progress and assess response to treatment.

Takeaways from the 2020-21 budget

The expenditure of Rs 2.23 lakh crore on health and welfare in the 2021 Union budget aimed to reinforce a holistic approach to health care across the preventive and curative spectrum. The emphasis on preventive health care was to encourage partnerships with the government, especially in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities, to expand the reach of screening services.

The Atma Nirbhar Swasthya Yojana with an investment of Rs. 64,180 crore over a six-year period to improve primary, secondary and tertiary health care, in addition to the national health mission and a renewed focus on health centers and urban and rural wellness programs were all aimed at making health care affordable and accessible to all.

strong>Current needs and expectations

The experience of the COVID-19 crisis has already highlighted the challenges facing healthcare, especially the diagnostics sector with supply chain restrictions, labor shortage – as healthcare workers have been affected and the scale of testing. To provide personalized care, labs will need to integrate technology, data science and analytics.

The national digital health mission is an essential step by the central government in the same direction that will make health services more flexible, accessible and affordable for the masses and we hope to see more emphasis in this area in the years to come.

Health care policies must take into account the entire value chain, from prevention, diagnosis, treatment to insurance coverage, in order to minimize the out-of-pocket costs involved. Public-private partnerships can play a very important role. We need more support to encourage private investment in health care and incentives for investment in research.

A push for digital health, a push for genetic research, long-term investment and prioritization of diagnostics, integration of diagnostics with surveillance systems will all help in public health decision-making. Establishing an enabling policy environment and transparent emergency mechanisms, working in partnership with communities, industries and healthcare professionals to foster an environment conducive to innovation will help give the sector much-needed momentum. .

Diagnosis is the central point of disease management. Early detection and treatment will help reduce financial burden and improve quality of life. Each step in this direction is a welcome gesture for the country.

The author is the CFO of MedGenome.

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