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Universal Healthcare—A Distant Dream or a Near Reality?

With an aim to make universal healthcare a reality, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) hosted its third edition of the conclave on ‘NextGen Healthcare 2016’ on Friday, 29 July, 2016 at Hotel Taj Mahal, New Delhi.

The conference was focused on the idea of Universal Healthcare—A Distant Dream or a Near Reality? Discussions hinged on various Universal-Healthcareaspects of achieving this. The panels were optimistic about achieving the goal of universal healthcare, though they felt it would take time and a great deal of trust between the government and private players.

Dr Dinesh Batra, Co-Chairman, NextGen Healthcare Conclave 2016; Co-Convener—Services Panel, CII Haryana State Council & Director and Group CEO, Cygnus Hospitals, opened the session by laying out the landscape, with an emphasis on issues, challenges, and needs. “The ideal healthcare scenario should go beyond discussion. Health itself should look at all aspects: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, along with involving all departments, as well as traditional medicine practice. That is the only way to make it healthcare, and not sick-care,” he said.

The CII-KPMG report on Mandatory Health Insurance was released. Dr Rajiv Chawla, Medical Director, GB Pant Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education & Research (GIPMER), and the chief guest, emphasized in his address that besides the universally accepted five pillars of healthcare: affordability, availability, accessibility, acceptability, and awareness, he would like to add more—accountability. Speaking about universal healthcare, he said, “It may be distant, but it is not a dream, because we are already on the path to achieving it.”

Dr Dharminder Nagar, Managing Director, Paras Healthcare, said that there was a need for the citizens of the country to put healthcare at the top of the agenda by demanding action from the government. It is only then, he felt, that government investment would go up from its current spend of just a third of what is already a very low percentage of the GDP. “We deserve and should demand more,” he said.

The other sessions expanded on these thoughts, in order to set an agenda to bridge the gap between skilled and unskilled healthcare workers, over-utilized and under-utilized infrastructure, urban and rural health, primary and quarternary care, and many others. There was representation from all stakeholders, including government, private, and advocacy groups.

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