Third edition of Healthcare Sabha discusses India’s Change Strategy for Public Health


Stakeholders of public health celebrate the successes and deliberate on methods to mitigate challenges at the two-day event, hosted by Express Healthcare and The Indian Express Group

Healthcare Sabha, the national thought leadership forum for public healthcare, reconvened in Pune, Novotel to continue its mission of ushering crucial reforms in the sector. In its third edition, its theme was India’s Change Strategy for Public Health – Prioritise, Plan and Practise.

After an auspicious and positive beginning to Healthcare Sabha 2018 with a lamp lighting ceremony, PBN Prasad, Deputy Drug Controller, CDSCO-West Zone, Government of India, was the Chief Guest at the event. In his address, he spoke on the need for a more cohesive and collaborative approach to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC). He also opined that NHPS is a project which seeks to achieve this objective.

In a very interesting and informative keynote address, Lt General CS Narayanan, VSM, PHS, Dy Chief (Medical) & Senior Colonel Commandant HQ, Integrated Defence Staff, Ministry of Defence, GoI, spoke on the multi-faceted and significant role played by armed forces to improve and enhance public health. He elaborated on their significant efforts towards various aspects of public healthcare; for instance health surveillance, immunisation, disaster management, first responders systems, managing aftermaths of calamities, improving medical preparedness in India, etc. The fact that they often have to do it hostile conditions and difficult terrains made their work even more worthwhile. His sessions also highlighted the contribution of armed forces in healthcare policy making as well.

The next speaker, Pranav Chandna, Director, Solutions, (PPP, Design, Consulting, LSP) – Philips -Indian subcontinent spoke on the future of PPPs in India. He opined on the role of effective PPPs in driving public healthcare reforms in the country. He also elaborated on Philips’ offerings in this arena. He also spoke on the factors that are important to create a successful PPP venture in healthcare, i,e. financial viability, bidder selection, quality, contract, technology.

Brig Smita Devrani, Principal, Matron Command Hospital, Pune, took the stage to speak on the importance of empowering women to enhance public healthcare. She also highlighted the gender bias and under representation of women in public health which is detrimental to its progress. She also elaborated on her organisation’s role in improving public healthcare in the country and their myriad initiatives in this direction.

In observance of Women’s Day, Healthcare Sabha had a panel discussion on the success of women health programmes in India. The moderator, Viveka Roychowdhury, set the context for the discussion by pointing out how pivotal it is to give adequate focus to women’s health to reform public healthcare in India. Brig Devrani spoke on how armed forces has contributed to the success of this objective while she also pointed out that her organisation does not discriminate in the health services provided on the basis of gender. Dr Prakasamma, Director, ANSWERS, Hyderabad, highlighted the need to improve maternal care, as important part of women’s health. She pointed out that women are the creators of future generations and protecting their health is essential to ensure continuity of the human race itself.

She also spoke on the need to have trained mid-wives to ensure improved outcomes during childbirth. Shubhalakshmi Patwardhan, Director, Niramaya Health Foundation, Mumbai, pointed out that women needs to get out of the sacrificial, self-denial mode to own their health and take the right decisions. Dr Shelly Batra, Co-founder, highlighted how TB is one of the greatest threats to women’s health in India and points out that women face a lot of stigma dan are often ostracised if they are infected with TB. She also spoke on the measures which can help tackle TB in women. One interesting suggestion was finger printing at temples to track, monitor and ensure compliance as well adherence to TB treatment. Alok Vajpeyi, Director Programmes, Population Foundation of India, elaborated on the educating women to help them do effective family planning. He also said that women’s health is the responsibility of men as well and they should take it up seriously.

Dr Nilima Kshirsagar, National Chair, Clinical Pharmacology, ICMR, GoI, reinforced the need for rational use of medicines, highlighted the various malpractices and shortcomings in our current systems and urged the public health officials to put an effective strategy in place to mitigate them in her session on Use of WHO ATC DDD methodology in procurement.

Strategies to implement best practices, innovation in procurement in public health were presented through cases studies. Dr Suresh Sarvdekar, Consultant – procurement of medicines & Medical devices, IMS_BHU elaborated on the use of tools of health technology assessment to prioritise health needs. Dr Om Upadhyay, Medical Superintendent, Sir Sunderlal Hospital, Banaras Hindu University, UP spoke on the advantages of NLEM-based hospital formulary.

The first day of Healthcare Sabha 2018 came to a close with a presentation of a very effective use of technology at PGIMER, Chandigarh which helped create tele-evidence to improve healthcare operations and thereby health outcomes.

While there were several learnings from the insightful sessions throughout the day, one outstanding message was that change will happen for the better when public health workers own their projects and are ready to trod unconventional paths in their pursuit for solutions to the challenges they face.

Informative and insightful sessions of the first day of Healthcare Sabha continued on the second day as well. Representatives from across the country came together to continue their discussions on different aspects of public health in India at the event, hosted by Express Healthcare.

Dr Pradeep Haldar, Deputy Commissioner (Immunization), MoHFW, in the first session for the day, elaborated on India’s immunisation programme – Mission Indradhanush and its various achievements. He also spoke on the various challenges in immunisation and detailed on the methods to improve the reach and outcomes of our efforts in this direction. Dr Haldar also shared the lessons learnt from his experience in this sphere which can be applied to ensure good governance in other segments of public healthcare.

The next topic covered was stroke management, an often neglected aspect of public healthcare according to the speaker, Dr NR Ichaporia, Consultant Neurologist, Jehangir Hospital, Pune. He expounded on stroke management in public health and highlighted the gaps in the current system. He also explained how the disease, apart from physical and mental disabilities, also poses a great economic burden on the patients.

A panel discussion on reviewing the role of states in public health followed his session. Dr Rakesh Kumar Srivastava, Ex-Director General of Health Services, GoI, & Advisor, Wish Foundation; Dr Dev Varma, Director of Health Services & Ex-officio, Add Sect, Govt of Tripura; Dr K Rajo Singh, Director Family Welfare Services, Manipur; and Dr Sarveshwar Narendra Bhure, Mission Director (NHM), Government of Chhattisgarh were the panelists for this session. In the course of the discussion, they evaluated the current scenario of public health in their respective states, examines both, successes and failures and deliberated on the way forward to build strong and effective public health systems.

The second day also witnessed several case studies which highlighted successful implementation of public health funds and resources. SN Bhure, Mission Director, NHM, MoH&FW, Government of Chhattisgarh, presented a case study on refomaing operations in Chhattisgarh through technology.

Dr Rupa Mitra, Medical Director, Central Hospital, South Eastern Railway a presented case study on effective NICUs and Dr Anjana Malhotra, Additional Chief Health Director, South Eastern Railway spoke on their burns unit under the topic, ‘Initiatives for change at Central Hospital’. KB Vijay Srinivas, GM, National Insurance Company expounded on the need for a good health financing system and the role of health insurance in rforming public health. Keshavendra Kumar, Mission Director, Kerala spoke on a project called ‘Hridyam for little hearts’ a venture to provide free paediatric heart surgeries in the state.

The last panel discussion at Healthcare Sabha revolved around a very pertinent issue – NHPS and its way forward. Dr Prateek Rathi, Special officer, ESCI, Govt of Maharashtra; Bejon Misra, International Consumer Policy Expert, The Partnership for Safe Medicines India and KB Vijay Shrinivas, GM, National Insurance Company were some of the panelists in this session. They discussed on the pros and cons of this initiative and debated on its efficacy and effectiveness in enhancing access and affordability of healthcare in India.

After the sessions, the delegates reconvened for Express Public Health Awards to honour the champions of public healthcare in India. Healthcare Sabha 2018, like its previous editions, was very well received and appreciated by all those who were present.

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