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In post-COVID phase, India’s healthcare infrastructure can receive a major boost: Dr Jitendra Singh

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Top professionals of India, drawn from the medical fraternity, corporate hospital sector, leading research bodies and medical economists took part in a discussion

Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh discussed post-COVID healthcare with top professionals of India, drawn from the medical fraternity, corporate hospital sector, leading research bodies and medical economists.

In a one-and-half hour long video conference meeting, prominent among those who offered their inputs included Dr V Mohan, internationally renowned diabetologist from Chennai, Dr NareshTrehan, CMD, Medanta, Dr Devi Shetty Chairman, Narayana Health Bengaluru, Dr Sangeeta Reddy, Joint MD Apollo Hospitals, Kiran Majumdar Shaw, CMD, Biocon Bengaluru, Dr Shekhar Mande DG CSIR New Delhi, Dr D. Sundararaman from Puducherry, Dr Shakti Gupta from AIIMS New Delhi, Dr Rathin Roy Director NIPFP New Delhi, Professor K Srinath Reddy President DHFI New Delhi and Dr Yogesh Jain from Chhattisgarh.

In his opening remarks, Dr Singh said that having dealt with the first phase of COVID-19 pandemic with exemplary diligence and professionalism, time has come for India to plan for the post-COVID phase and to strategise how best this adversity can be converted into an opportunity to reinforce our healthcare infrastructure to meet the future needs. He said, if planned judiciously with insight, this could be an opportunity to develop India’s future healthcare infrastructure not only of world class standard but also as a major contributor to the country’s economy.

Dr Singh said, “Another concern of the medical fraternity is that while we discharge our responsibility to conquer the COVID-19 challenge, we should not be inadvertently neglecting the non-COVID patients, including those suffering from non-communicable diseases like diabetes mellitus, heart disease and cancer, which continue to have high mortality rate despite the presence of COVID-19 and at the same time also contribute to mortality in the COVID-19 patients by way of being a co-morbidity.

Even after the lockdown is over, Dr Singh said, the battle against COVID may continue and may call for a large scale or mass screening of the population. The liability of doing this will also have to be weighed in the light of any future planning for healthcare, he added.

During the discussion, there was an emphasis on the need for a high level of surveillance and classification of COVID-19 cases depending upon severity. The psychological fall-out of it also came up for discussion.

While discussing the economy, the opinion was that in any future planning, the health sector should be given much higher priority so that it becomes a major component of India’s economy. At the same time, the manufacturing and pharma sector in India should be given impetus particularly at a time when most of the countries of the world will prefer to do business with India. Other suggestions put forward included various options to give financial stimulus to the existing health sector.

Preventive healthcare,including in case of non-COVID conditions like non-communicable diseases, was also discussed in detail.

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