Govt plans to set benchmarks in cost of treatments

Kochi, Dec 5: The Union Government, in collaboration with the industry, is in the process of finding out the actual cost of treatment for the diseases and fixing a benchmark to make treatment affordable in the country where still 40 percent of the people end up in debts after hospitalizations.

Delivering the key-note address at the valedictory session of the first Global Health Conference on Social Marketing and Franchising here today, Additional Secretary in the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Shri C K Mishra said a committee comprising industry representatives was into the task of benchmarking the treatment costs.

“Affordability is a big question and where should we fix the benchmark? We cannot do it based on the highly costly treatment in the private sector nor base it on the free healthcare delivery in the public sector,” he said.

The committee set up by the Government was working to find out the actual cost of treatment in different therapeutic areas so that treatment could be made affordable and schemes could be formulated as per that, he added.

The senior official also lamented that the private sector interventions in the primary sector was very low, though there was much intervention at the tertiary level, at least in the urban areas. “The private sector is not yet ready to participate at the primary level and the Government role is to fill this gap,” he said.

Mr Mishra also urged the stakeholders to come up with innovative models, especially in the medical devices sector. “Technology is the only solution to make medical equipments and treatment affordable. We look toward to the industry to come with ideas appropriate to the health concerns of the particular country,” he added.

Finding and fixing a benchmark was a dilemma also in the case of quality, which is a major key to universal health coverage, he said, while stressing that any scheme being planned by the government should be sustainable. “The idea of free medicines to all is good but we have to make sure that it continues and need to look at the practical solutions to make it sustainable,” he said.

Earlier speaking at a plenary on ‘Government model of universal health coverage in primary healthcare’, executive director of the National Health Systems Resources Centre Dr T Sundararaman said still in India 40 percent of the people end up in debt after hospitalizations.

The Government has initiated a pilot study in 30 districts across the country to find out the gaps and suggest measurements to scale up the efforts on the universal healthcare coverage and the data would be released this month itself. He also pointed out that the allocation for health should be increased to Rs 1.2 lakh crore from the current levels to ensure universal coverage in the country.

Director in the Health Ministry Mr Vikas Arya, while talking about the social marketing programmes including condom distribution, said the government was planning to overhaul the strategy and the scheme as the present programme focusing around Nirodh condoms has been stagnant and outdated.

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