'Spend more on life-saving gadgets'

More BMW cars, few defibrillators

In India more BMWs were bought than installing defibrillators to treat heart patients in 2011, said Dr Balbir Singh, cardiologist, Medanta Hospital.

He and other experts pointed out medical technology is heavily concentrated in urban parts of India, making advanced treatment inaccessible to a large population.

“For every 10,000 people in the United States who get benefitted by defibrillators, only one person in India gets this service. This means India needs 10,000 times more defibrillators to treat life-threatening cardiac cases to come at par with the US,” said Dr Singh.

“Ironically, in 2011, Indians bought a lot more BMW cars than the total defibrillators installed in the nation,” said Dr Singh.

He added that average cost of each BMW car is Rs 35 to 40 lakh, while a defibrillator costs Rs 3.5 lakh. “We keep complaining that India is a poor nation and thus we can’t have medical technology for all. But this is not the case,” he added.
He was speaking at the 5th medical technology conference organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry. Dr Bishnu Prasad Panigrahi of Fortis Hospital, Mohali, said tier II cities should have differentiated products.

“Developers of medical technology should give customised solutions to tier II cities. They should understand that expectations and demands from metros like Delhi is different than that of smaller places,” said Dr Panigrahi.

He said if the technology offered is the same, then people prefer going to tier I cities after shelling out a little extra money.

Head of a private company said innovative solutions to simple problems should also be promoted. Giving example of government hospitals in Karnataka he said, they used a hand sanitiser and the state saved 13 lakh litre of water in a year.
“Technology has also to be linked to general problems that healthcare faces,” he said.

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