Private sector a critical player; Must get involved in primary healthcare: Secretary, Health & Family Welfare, GoI

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NEW DELHI, 14 July 2022: Rajesh Bhushan, Secretary, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Govt of India today asserted that private sector is a critical player in the overall healthcare system in the country. He added that a large part of health burden is borne by the private sector providers. “Private sector is a critical player and must get involved not only in secondary and tertiary healthcare but also in the primary healthcare which has historically remained a less-glamorous area for the private sector. Even in the secondary and tertiary healthcare where a major part of hospitalization is in the private sector, is limited to metros and bigger towns only. Private sector can also step-in even in tier-2 and 3 towns and government will provide an enabling eco-system for the private sector,” he highlighted.

Addressing the seminar on ‘Transforming Primary Healthcare in India through AB-HWCs’, organized by FICCI, jointly with NATHEALTH and OMAG, Secretary Bhushan said that to promote start-ups, National Health Authority (NHA) has created a sandbox for young start-ups and private developers to develop and use the sandbox facility to run their application on the eSanjeevani platform. “Going ahead, we need to look at ‘appropriate technologies’ and not necessarily cutting-edge technology. We may not require cutting-edge technology in the primary healthcare, but we do require appropriate technology which can be cost effective,” added Bhushan.

Urging the private sector for more investments in the primary healthcare sector, the Secretary said that industry must utilize forums like FICCI and other associations to encourage private sector providers to engage with state governments to forge sustainable partnerships and add value to health and wellness centres.

To attract private sector in the primary healthcare, Bhushan said that both the union and the state government are open for partnerships with private promoters, non-government entities to strengthen the primary healthcare. “To take this forward, it is important for the states to prepare baselines of their health and wellness centres and what interventions they want the private sector to bring in,” he added.

Highlighting the concerns of the primary healthcare centres, Bhushan said that with the dual burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases, currently we have overcrowding of the secondary and tertiary healthcare facilities. Overcrowding is also because of the weaknesses of the primary health system along with the historical case of underfunding of the primary care health systems. “What is required is a ‘fit-for-purpose’ primary healthcare system which provides comprehensive primary healthcare to realize the goal of Universal Health Coverage,” he added.

Amit Mohan Prasad, Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Health & Family Welfare, Govt of Uttar Pradesh said that primary healthcare is extremely important and has remained under funded. It is important to ensure that there should not be undue load on the secondary and tertiary healthcare systems. “It is high time that the sub-centres should be converted into health and wellness centres with better infrastructure, and they will become the first port of call for primary healthcare. Health and wellness centres are going to be the bedrock of primary healthcare in the country,” he added.

Niraj Bansod, Director Health Services, Govt of Chhattisgarh highlighted the steps taken by the state to promote primary healthcare. He added that the state is giving more importance to enhance the primary healthcare network.

(Hony) Brig Dr Arvind Lal, Chair, FICCI Swasth Bharat Task Force and Managing Trustee, ALVL Foundation said that it is a matter of pride for the entire private healthcare industry to come together and collaborate in helping the government to transform primary healthcare in India. “Private sector will be partners of the government in promoting health and wellness centres and will not be taking them over,” he added.

Arun Chawla, Director General, FICCI said that AB-HWCs (Ayushman Bharat- Health and Wellness Centres) are now recognized as the largest reform in primary health since India’s independence. FICCI has joined hands with NATHEALTH and OMAG to work in UP and Chhattisgarh to create demonstration models of ‘smart HWCs) jointly with respective State National Health Mission. “I urge the private sector to come forward and use their CSR funds towards the development of ‘Smart Health and Wellness Centres’,” he added.

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