Healthcare sector in India, considered as a sunrise sector, has progressed significantly over the last two decades. However, it remains at the critical stage thanks to the poor delivery system.
Today, though the industry is still wading through a sea of challenges, there have been some positive developments that can offer respite. The Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY), also known as Ayushman Bharat, is being considered as a game changer for the Indian healthcare sector. The world’s ‘most ambitious healthcare initiative’ envisages to cover nearly 11 crore families or 50 crore people — about 40 per cent of India’s 1.3 billion population. The scheme has been designed to provide free treatment of up to Rs 5 lakh per eligible family in a year for treatment of serious ailments.
Of late, the central government has also accorded ‘industry status’ to private hospitals, along with support for land acquisition, clearances and funding, to boost expansion of healthcare infrastructure in tier-2 and -3 cities. The much-awaited decision is expected to be a shot in the arm for the struggling private healthcare in India.
Further the government’s plan to provide funding for reviving unviable projects or projects that are in limbo come as a breather. The proposed incentives like viability gap funding of up to 40 per cent of the total project cost and gap funding of up to 50 per cent of tax on capital cost can provide much-needed thrust for the cash-strapped sector.
Another offer is to set up of a National Medical Devices Promotion Council (NMDCP) under the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) in the Ministry of Commerce & Industry. The medical devices industry is an integral part of the healthcare ecosystem and plays a critical role in expanding the reach of healthcare reforms. Although the industry is witnessing an upward trend in India, a large of volume of imports continues to hurt domestic manufacturing growth. In this context, the setting-up of the NMDCP is expected to spur domestic medical devices manufacturing.
The above moves, if properly implemented, can not only create level playing field for domestic players, but can also transform the entire healthcare ecosystem thereby providing access to healthcare for all.