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AIM to Redefine Healthcare Ecosystem: Access, Innovation & Make in India

June, 2017

Suresh Vazirani, Chairman & Managing Director, Transasia Bio-Medicals shares his approach to address the rising cases of lifestyle disorders in India  
One sixth of the global population resides in India and the unmet needs of healthcare delivery are huge. As India marches on the path to progressive growth, there is an alarming rise in the cases of lifestyle disorders.

Today, one out of every four Indians is at a risk of succumbing to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like diabetes, cardio-vascular ailments, cancer etc. before the age of 70. In totality, this accounts to roughly 5.8 million of the Indian population, yearly.

India has the highest number of diabetics at 65 million. As per the World Health Organization (WHO) this accounts for about 17% of the global diabetes burden. This figure is set to increase to 73.5 million by 2025. Additionally, 25 million Indians suffer from cardiovascular disease, which makes up about 60 % of the global total.

Among infectious diseases, HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), HBV (Hepatitis B Virus) and HCV (Hepatitis C Virus) are the most prevalent. The WHO has termed HCV infections as a hidden epidemic. Roughly 12 million Indians are carriers of the Hepatitis C virus. On the other hand, Hepatitis B is prevalent in 40 million Indians. The silver lining is the declining rate of HIV in most states. However, we still have a long way to go, as even today, around 2.4 million Indians are infected with this deadly virus.

These alarming statistics further emphasize the need for preventive medicine. However, interventions for prevention and control of NCDs call for equitable access to basic and affordable health technologies - for instance, 70% of the treatment decisions are based on lab results.

While diagnostics form an integral part of the healthcare sector, approximately 80% of medical devices are still being imported to cater to a country of 1.2 billion people. This is not a very desirable situation for the healthcare delivery ecosystem as medical technologies continue to be less affordable.

It is interesting to note the huge difference in the cost of healthcare in India and the West. A cardiac surgery in the USA typically costs around USD 70,000 while in India it would be somewhere around USD 4500 - accounting for a whopping difference of 93% in the costs. So while we are importing medical equipments on one end, factors such as easy availability of skilled manpower, expertise, and manufacturing in India are aiding cost reduction on the other end. 

Hence, there is a pressing need to use medical technology effectively to address the yawning gap between demand and supply of healthcare services in India. Innovative products and business models are needed to make healthcare affordable and accessible to a larger percentage of the population.

Statistics show that only 60% of the Indian population has access to quality healthcare. In rural India, where the number of Primary Healthcare Centers (PHCs) is limited, 8% of the centers do not have doctors or medical staff, and around 39% do not have lab technicians.

To cater to the needs for essential diagnostics, the focus should be on AIM - Access, Innovation and Make in India.

Access

Limited access to quality medical infrastructure, including skilled manpower and technologies has been the pain point of over 70% of Indians who live in smaller towns and rural areas.

An important aspect of providing access to these customers is loaning them equipment that has traditionally been limited to larger labs in metro cities and leveraging this model to penetrate rural parts of India, thereby enabling better access and quality of care.

Transasia recently introduced a first of its kind initiative for the Indian In-Vitro Diagnostics (IVD) Industry, ‘Transasia on the Move’ – a specially designed mobile-van lounge to demonstrate its products and technology at the door steps of healthcare professionals based not just in towns, but also in small villages of India.

Through the mobile-van, Transasia not only provided education and experience to clinicians and allied healthcare professionals, but also gained on-ground insights such as low awareness about the availability of affordable technologies and use of technologies amongst medical professionals in those regions.

Innovation

While Indian hospitals have either surpassed or are atleast at par with western standards in terms of providing quality healthcare, the cost of delivery is around 1/100th  of its western counterparts, which has been made possible with disruptive innovation.

By manufacturing the world’s latest technologies in India, one can leverage the advantages of low cost production, thereby providing affordable and innovative solutions for further improved patient outcomes.

Make In India

Medical diagnostic devices are critical enablers for quality healthcare services. Developing domestic manufacturing capabilities would not only help to rationalize healthcare costs but would also catalyze the growth of an R&D ecosystem that contributes further to indigenous manufacturing. This would align with the objective of the ‘Make in India’ program to spur manufacturing related to healthcare.

The Transasia R&D team in India has been working to advance healthcare. With a focus on Immunodiagnostics, Molecular Biology, Clinical Chemistry, Coagulation, Hematology, Critical care, Diabetes management, Microbiology, Urinalysis, Instrumentation and Automation, Transasia designs and develops technologies in clinical diagnostics for the emerging markets.

The opinions expressed in the article are th

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