Advanced medical treatments being brought to India from the western world by corporate hospitals are still out of “financial reach” of many in the country, Vice- President M Venkaiah Naidu said on Friday and asked the concerned to make such treatments “affordable” and within the “reach of all sections”.
Naidu highlighted that millions get “pushed into poverty and the vicious cycle of debts” due to out-of-pocket expenses and high treatment costs which, he said, should be a matter of concern for all stakeholders, including private and corporate hospitals.
Acknowledging that every advanced medical procedure being performed elsewhere in the world is now being performed in India, Naidu said it is still out of bounds for many, though the treatment is being offered at a much lesser cost as compared to western countries.
“…What is important is to make advanced treatment accessible and affordable to all sections. It should be a matter of concern for all stakeholders in the health sectors that millions get pushed into poverty and the vicious cycle of debts due to out-of-pocket expenses and high treatment costs.
“All stakeholders in the healthcare sector must address this issue on a war footing. Advanced health treatment costs have to be made affordable and within the reach of all sections,” Naidu said after inaugurating Apollo Proton Cancer Centre, which will be the first institution to offer Proton beam therapy for cancer patients in the whole of South-East Asia.
While bringing cutting-edge technology to treat cancers, the focus should also be on making available these health services at affordable cost, Naidu said and advised Apollo Hospitals also to take lead in this regard.
Stressing the need to build the urban-rural divide in providing healthcare facilities, he exhorted the private sector to expand facilities to the rural areas, where the majority of India’s population lives and suggested Public Private Partnership as the model to bridge the gap.
Naidu suggested institutions like Apollo Hospitals to launch mobile screening vans for both urban and rural areas so that more and more people are covered by screening programmes. “In many cases, cancer patients present themselves when the disease is in a fairly advanced stage with little scope to reverse it. This situation could be averted if the disease is diagnosed early,” the V-P said.
Apollo Hospitals Chairman Dr Prathap C. Reddy said the launch of the Apollo Proton Cancer Centre puts India on the global map for the best and latest in cancer treatment and will give new hope to cancer patients not just in India, but across South East Asia, the Middle East and Africa.