Symhealth 2017-Healthcare in a Globalizing world

As you may have seen on social media I was a delegate at Symhealth 2017. It was a conference at Lavale, Pune organized by Symbiosis International University. The theme “Healthcare in a Globalizing world.”

There was plenty on offer in terms of new and fresh perspectives. So departing from my usual QMC posts I decided to share some of the takeaway points from the Conference.

Keynote speaker Symhealth 2017 Healthcare

Dr. Soumya Swaminathan at SymHealth 2017 Healthcare

Here’s a list of the speakers (Quite a rockstar line-up):

  • Dr. Ashok Dayalchand (Director, Institute of Health Management, Pune)
  • Dr. Nitin Jadhav (Associate Coordinator, SATHI Pune)
  • Dr. Alok Kumar,IAS (Advisor, NITI Aayog, GoI)
  • Dr. Satish Kumar (Advisor – Public Health Planning, NHSRC,MoH & FW, GoI)
  • Dr. K. Srinath Reddy (President, Public Health Foundation of India)
  • Dr. Gita Sen (Director, R S Centre on Equity on Social Determinants of Health, PHFI)
  • Dr. Mira Shiva (Founder, All India Drug Action Network)
  • Ms. Seema Ahuja (Vice President, Biocon, Bengaluru)
  • Dr. SubbaRao M Gavaravarapu (Deputy Director, National Institute of Nutrition- ICMR)
  • Dr. Ruchi Jaggi (Director, Symbiosis Institute of Media & Communication, SIU)
  • Ms. Sushma Kapoor (Vice President, GHS)
  • Mr. Kumar Ketkar (Chief Editor, Dainik Divya Marathi)
  • Dr. Pradeep Krishnatray (India- Director, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health)
  • Dr. Mohan Agashe (Former Director, Maharashtra Institute of Mental Health)
  • Dr. R. Balasubramaniam (Founder & President ,Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement, Mysore)
  • Sunita Singh-Dalal (Chair, AC & H Legal Consultants, Dubai)
  • Dr. Nikhil Datar (Medical Director& Senior Consultant, Cloudnine Hospital, Mumbai)
  • Prof. Kris Gledhill (Director of Clinical Education, AUT Law School, New Zealand)
  • Dr. Sanjay Gupte (Past President, FOGSI)
  • Dr. Santosh Kakade (CEO, Core India Institute of Legal Medicine)
  • Dr. N. R. Madhava Menon (Chancellor, NUEPA, Delhi)
  • Prof. John Tingle (Reader in Health Law, Nottingham Trent University, UK 
  • Dr. R. Chandrashekhar (Chairman IGBC, Green Healthcare Ratings)
  • Mr. Jayesh Dave (Associate GM Architect, Fortis Healthcare)
  • Dr. Vivek Desai (MD, HOSMAC India Pvt. Ltd.)
  • Dr. Prashant Jha (Fellowship Director, International School of Biodesign, New Delhi)
  • Mr. Mohit Malhotra (MD, Stryker India Private Limited)
  • Dr. B. Ravi (Chair Professor – Mechanical Engineering, IIT-Bombay)
  • Dr. Nitin Tripathi (Professor, AIT, Bankonk)
  • Mr. Pranay Goel (Associate Professor- IISER
  • Mr. Pankaj Kakkar (Director Data Mineria)
  • Mr. Pankaj Kanchankar (Commercial Director, Satvix Informatics)
  • Mr. Milind Pol  (SVP, Analytics, OHUM Healthcare Solutions Pvt. Ltd.)
  • Ms. Linda Roberson (CEO, Paper Tracer Software System, USA)
  • Dr. Anupam Saraph (Future Designer & Growth Strategist)
  • Maj. Gen. Sanjay Behera (Commandant, AMC Centre & College)
  • Dr. Khanindra Bhuyan (Health Specialist, UNICEF)
  • Mr. Suman Billa IAS (Joint Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, New Delhi)
  • Ambassador (Retd.) Sudhir T Devare (Former Indian Ambassador)
  • Dr. Roderico H. Ofrin (Regional Coordinator, WHO, SEARO, New Delhi)
  • Dr. Ajith Kamath (Executive Director, Mitra Biotech Pvt. Ltd.)
  • Mr. Gautam Morey (MD, Sofomo Embedded Solutions Pvt. Ltd)
  • Dr. Shirshendu Mukherjee (Mission Director, Grand Challenges India, BIRAC)
  • Dr. Shyam Vasudeva Rao (MD, Forus Healthcare)
  • Dr. Purushottam Shiralkar (Consultant, NHS, UK)
  • Surg. Rear Admiral Dr. V. K. Singh (Retd.) (MD, InnovatioCuris)
  • Dr . (Sur. Capt.) Kushilab Bose (Chief, Medical Operations, Healthspring)
  • Dr. B. M. Hegde (Former Vice Chancellor, Manipal University)
  • Mr. Dileep Kumar (President, Indian Nursing Council)
  • Dr. R Nagarathna (Medical Director, Arogyadhama, VYASA)
  • Dr. K. S. Sethi (Deputy Advisor, Homeopathy, GoI)
  • Dr. N .Srikanth (Dy. Director General, CCARS, GoI)
  • Dr. H. Sudarshan (Hon. Sec, Karuna Trust)
  • Dr. Ravi Wankhedkar (President Elect, Indian Medical Association)
  • Dr. Sanjay Zodpey (Vice President, Public Health Education, PHFI)
  • Dr Henk Bekedam (WHO Representative to India)
  • Ram Jeth Melani ( Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha), Senior Advocate (Supreme Court of India) and an eminent professor of law)
Integrating Healthcare

Symhealth 2017 – Integrating Healthcare

Some key points about healthcare in India that I took away from the conference with my personal opinion in brackets:

Point 1- Universal Health care needs more money and it will be quite some time before India can realize this. (With only 1% of the budget allocated to healthcare and no change on the horizon, it looks gloomy for Indian healthcare.)

Point 2 – India has a long way to go to reduce its Maternal mortality rate (174) and Infant Mortality Rate (45) (Maybe we should ask Sri Lanka how they do it?)

Point 3- There is no one solution to healthcare. (I agree. We should start with basic coverage and gradually move up. But we must start somewhere!)

Point 4- Increased Research in medical schools should be encouraged. (Maybe it should be made part of the curriculum? And doctors in research should be paid significantly more than sweepers.)

Point 5- Decentralization of powers and healthcare decisions shifted from Union to State.  (These powers should be clearly delineated, so that decision-making ping pong is prevented.)

Point 6 – Social organization in terms of determinants of health should be given special attention. (Education, hygiene, jobs, women’s rights, equal pay, gender inequality-how many years is it going to take for us to pay attention.)

Point 7- Tax to GDP ratio has to be raised. (Yes raise taxes for all, not just the working middle class. All unorganized workers in rural areas and everywhere else should pay. If it works in the Middle East, it can work here.)

Point 8- Two aspects should be focused on in universal health coverage ( vertical and horizontal). The vertical growth of healthcare cannot survive if pillars of horizontal growth namely infrastructure is not strengthened. (Strongly agree, the public hospitals are crumbling, where will all these universally covered people go. The current public sector is already stretched.)

Point 9- Public -private health care should be a level playing field. (Contrary to what was said, I think public hospitals need to up their game, instead of saying private hospitals should lower their standards)

Point 10- Migration to SDG’s (Sustainable Developmental Goals) must hit the ground running. (We can’t afford to be sluggish.)

Point 11- Inequality has to be addressed.

Point 12- Strong statements come from the government, but where is the money?

Point 13- More regulation of the private sector. (Agree, You can’t have drug and services priced differently everywhere.)

Point 14- Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu’s case study of making drugs affordable should be emulated by all states. (This was an eyeopener. These state governments did really well in making drugs cheap for their citizens. We should adopt it in all states.)

Point 15- There needs to be coordinated response in a disaster in India. (When I asked about why we’re not investing in civilian disaster preparedness like Japan, it was said that one size cannot fit all. Honestly,  we don’t have a civilian disaster preparedness plan. Most of it is a personal responsibility. I wish the government could rope in civilian doctors, nurses and healthcare personnel for this, like they did in the Philippines for typhoons and volcanoes. I remember duties on those days, all hands on deck.)

Point 16- Grants and funding for medical innovations and projects require compelling ideas and a strong application that checks all these criteria: significance, motivation, investigation, approach and environment.

Point 17- Technology is becoming essential to better healthcare.  Numerous innovations are changing the way doctors deliver healthcare.

Point 18- The above point also reduces the connect between doctors and patients. (So what do people want more connect with a human doctor or more technology?)

Point 19- Who is to say that tribal medicine and the way tribal people live is not healthy? (This was an excellent talk about why we should allow tribal people to function as they always have without harming their habitats . It was also enlightening how the decisions made at the Center have been disastrous for these people with no oversight about the ground realities on tribal areas.)

Point 20- Doctors are increasingly demonized. (The general tone of the conference was largely anti-physician. There was a lot of hate for doctors. For all the sacrifice, sweat, blood and tears I’ve put into being a physician, I found it disappointing. Well I can only say this to the policymakers; you only reap what you sow. )

In the end, Dr Henk Bekedam, stressed the need for the government to wake up from its inaction and work on strengthening infrastructure while also explaining the basis for universal health coverage.  He also moaned the fact that we spend only 1% of our budget on health.  (Trivia: Bangladesh and Sr Lanka spend more than us and they’re MMR  & IMR  are way below ours.)

Mr Ram Jeth Melani, was quite vocal about two things, the rise of ISIS which quite rightly is going unchecked and the inertia over bringing back black money from abroad by the current Indian government. More black money coming to the coffers would mean more for the government to spend on things like healthcare. The man has guts, I have to admit. No wonder he’s such a fantastic lawyer.

Were you at the Conference? Are you planning on attending one this year? Tell me what you learned or plan on learning?

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