For innovation in diagnostics, budget should focus on Design for India

Publication: Business Standard
Posted on: January 24, 2017

For innovation in diagnostics, budget should focus on Design for India


The sector in India has been on a rapid growth spectrum in the last decade. We have created more technical jobs, prevented brain drain to a certain extent, and most importantly brought in quality healthcare, at par with global services.
The 2016-17 union was a promising one for the public from a perspective. We saw increase in pharmacies providing subsidised medicines and a promise of higher insurance covers for the low-income families. But many of the goals yet remain unachieved or unimplemented, pressing matters remain unattended, and this year’s should definitely do better than the previous one and see its agenda through. The government should look from being a facilitator of health than be a provider.


  • A that can lay the framework for the followings:
  • An overarching vision for healthcare
  • Roadmap for Indian health system
  • Overhauling the primary system that will reflect well on IMR and MMR
  • Focus and awareness programs on preventive and early disease management to reduce cost burden
  • Public private partnerships (PPP)
  • Effective implementation at an enormous scale


Allocations for regulation
Mindful of the fact that diagnostics is the first step towards effective treatment, it is important that all our national health programmes recognise the importance of quality diagnostics. In order to ensure that quality diagnostics reach people through programme verticals; budgetary allocations to diagnostics is much needed. It’s time that the government realises that the sector comprises largely of unregulated players. Anybody can open a laboratory today and start giving out reports and there is nobody to check if our citizens are getting the diagnosis they deserve. Today, accreditation is not mandatory and hence the onus of accuracy, quality or reliability of a test reports lies with a lab. Make allocations for such regulation in the Empower national bodies like NABL to play a bigger role in regulating the most basic function of


Tax relaxations and subsidies
The support from government in the form of tax relaxations and subsidies is rather limited. We do have the tax exemption for preventive tests below Rs 5000, which would have a positive impact on the demand side of the market. However many more interventions are needed on the supply side so as to reduce the costs of delivering tests. Currently, the taxation levied on necessary chemicals and technology increase the test costs, thereby making it inaccessible to most people. If the costs for life saving tests have to be brought down and its benefits are to trickle down to the common man, reduction on taxation of would have a much more visible effect.


Public private partnerships
Government should also look at collaborating with private players to take quality diagnostics to towns and rural areas. Sufficient incentives and subsidies should be given to be able to sustain a presence in these areas, while offering the best of services.


Facilitate innovations, Design for India

Ameera Shah, MD, Metropolis Healthcare Ltd

Ameera Shah, MD, Metropolis Ltd

There is so much talk around Make in India but our focus should be ‘Design for India’. Today 90 percent of research & development and innovations in are done in western markets, which need to be bought and adapted for the Indian consumer. Every technology that we import is meant for the western population and solves problems typically faced in their markets.


The need of the hour is indigenous solutions created in India for problems faced by consumers in emerging markets. We need to ‘Design for India’ in the country and actually manufacture anywhere. allocations that can boost such innovations can truly shape the future of the Indian system.


The past few years have also seen a steady growth in the number of lifestyle and chronic diseases. The younger generation of the workforce is not as healthy as they should be. If not checked right now, the problems may escalate into worrisome statistics. The Government and the should hence also focus on preventive strategies. Technology again can become a huge enabler in collating data in order to implement evidence-based strategies and treatments.


necessities of the rural and senior people were the critical pillars of the union 2016. I am hopeful the union 2017 will provide a thrust to the objective of the growing overall infrastructure in India and improving access for all.