Last year in September, India's central government launched National Health Protection Scheme or Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojna (AB-PMJAY), which is is touted as the 'world's largest government funded healthcare programme' aimed at targeting over 50 crore beneficiaries. In a latest to this, the National Health Authority (NHA), the implementing body for the AB-PMJAY, has set up a unit to promote innovations that reduce dependence on imported technologies to make quality health care affordable.

The NHA "innovation unit", which comprises a 4-member team, will carefully shortlist and select applications from start-ups, including organisations and individuals, offering technologies that lower cost and reduce dependency on imported technologies, which are costly.

The four members of the innovation unit will then refer the selected innovations to the government departments concerned for expert opinion. The NHA will take a call on whether to accept the proposal on the basis of feedback it receives from departments concerned.

Dinesh Arora, who is Deputy CEO of AB-PMJAY, said, "Lot of start-ups offer affordable health care by innovating on expensive technologies that exist. Many have approached us with proposals to develop cost-effective machines, gadgets, diagnostic kits, data privacy technology etc to bring down the cost significantly."

"There is a greater need to cultivate a landscape of synergies fixated on innovations centred on the Indian health care system to constantly evolve and deliver better outcomes through PMJAY… Thus, for focusing efforts in building an ecosystem geared towards accelerating innovations and facilitating partnerships with the external stakeholders’ present in the health care sector, a National Health Authority Innovation Unit is being established,” reads the NHA the order"

It may also be recalled that in March 2017, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) had moved a cabinet note and suggestion that the maximum age for classifying a biotechnology or a medical devices firm as a startup be raised to 8-10 years from the current 5 years [Read Here].

Later in May of same year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited startups to focus on research for innovative medical devices and use technology to make healthcare more affordable and said that "India should manufacture its own medical devices to bring down the cost. Recently, the government reduced cost of stents by 85%."

In April last year, the Government and the World Bank signed a $125 million loan agreement to support India in developing an innovative biopharmaceutical and medical devices industry.

Source - Hindustan Times

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