According to studies, India’s one billion population is growing by 1.6% annually, and the ageing population has exceeded 100 million with its percentage also set to increase from 5.3% to 6% in 2021. Socio-economic changes and increased ageing population is making India more prone to lifestyle-related diseases like diabetes, obesity, stroke and cancer. On the other hand, scarcity of basic amenities and increased costs of healthcare make it less affordable and inaccessible to the lower-income groups which happen to be the most substantial chunk of our population.
One of the main reasons for this is the import of medical devices. Presently the medical industry in India is valued at 5.2 billion USD and is estimated to be valued at 50 billion USD by 2025. India imports about 75% of all medical devices in the country. With a percentage that high, it is virtually impossible to take care of a population expected to reach 2 billion soon. With widespread diseases and expensive healthcare, what should people do? Is there a solution to this pressing issue?
The most viable solution is to cut costs. Cutting costs is easier said than done. However, reducing the import of medical devices can be a big step towards making healthcare affordable for the common man. Importing medical devices is not a smart move. Products and technology become expensive due to added costs such as taxes, packaging expenses and freight charges. Even the most affordable devices become expensive because of these added costs. Small medical devices such as stethoscopes and syringes, which can be easily produced in the country are also imported.
The growing need for healthcare services in India means that there is an increasing demand for medical devices too. If we continue to import medical devices, the cost of healthcare will increase, making it unaffordable for people. India has to develop a model that allows for self-sustenance in the healthcare sector and reduce dependence on imports. With tremendous success in IT, textiles, space research and FMCG sectors, why not make big leaps in diagnostics too? There is no shortage of talent or resources to help achieve this goal. India has what it takes to be a leader in medical research and start exporting to other countries.
Another way to cut costs is to replace old healthcare techniques with new-gen techniques. Old techniques are still widely used in the country. Most of them have a lot of routine checks which increase costs and become burdensome for people. New-gen techniques can eliminate these routine checks and integrate healthcare processes making it easily affordable. Research shows that at the moment new-gen techniques cut costs by 1/10th. Within a few years, this cost-cutting is only going to increase.
Neuberg Diagnostics has already laid the groundwork by taking the first steps towards this goal by setting up various fully functional laboratories around the country. Their focus is on pathological research and we have developed over 5000 of them so far. The research goes deep into new-gen techniques such as genomics, metabolomics, proteomics, molecular biology and digital pathology. Pathology helps in early detection and prevention which is much cheaper than cure after detection. We have also focused on wellness programs and structured management programs for rare diseases using data science and artificial intelligence. The technological leap Neuberg has managed in such a short time is impressive. Usually, advanced technology takes a long time to reach developing countries like India. Our core mission is to develop this technology in developing countries like ours, making it easily accessible and affordable to as many people as possible.
All developing countries are continually working towards becoming developed countries. Excellent healthcare facilities are one of the determinants of developed countries. Thus, improving healthcare is one significant step forward towards achieving this goal. Cutting on imports will ensure there’s more money in the economy to develop other sectors and drive innovation in newer sectors. Health, productivity and economic progress go hand in hand. Let us take one big step into the future and make the world a healthier place.