Epharma starups demands Medical Innovation Fund in Budget 2019
India is a land of diversity with huge population and with diversity lies, multiple agonies too. The start to the developmental society and encouraged nation begins with the formation of perfect healthy country. After all, health is wealth and therefore, it is a necessity to make India a land of healthy society too. India ranks 145th among 195 countries as a matter of quality and accessibility of healthcare, according to a Lancet study. India happens to be just behind its neighbours including China, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Yet, the Indian healthcare market is set to grow at a 22% CAGR to reach $372 Bn by 2022, a threefold rise since the year 2016.
The untapped market potential of India explains a lot about the Indian economy and its upliftment. While a slew of health tech and epharma startups have emerged during the last decade, that are actually renovating the face of Indian healthcare by helping the people through the concept of bringing the pharmacy services at their doors, yet, their effect and implications have been largely limited to cities only, precisely Tier-1 cities.
India with such a large population sustains mainly of the poor people or the rural areas. This highlights the fact that rural India lacks the necessities or requirements needed for a healthy living and friendly economy that includes primary healthcare facilities, making it hard for health tech startups to penetrate in these areas.
Saurabh Agarwal, chief financial officer (CFO) of Epharma startup Medlife, expects Budget 2019 to address the enlisted infrastructural issues in healthcare. “The Budget should support the expansion of digital healthcare. E-healthcare players have great potential to make healthcare more affordable and accessible by using technology to provide doctor consultations, ensure medicine availability and diagnostic services in every nook and corner of the country including the remotest locations,” he notified.
Rectifying the report, ironically, 74% of the doctors in India are in cities where nearly, only 26% are available in rural India. However, according to the last census (2011), 69% of the Indian population are still living in rural shores of India. Therefore, India’s existing average doctor-to-patient ratio, 1:1700 against 1:400 as prescribed by the WHO, is actually flawed. The actual ratio in rural India is more than the ratios depicted or estimated.
According to the survey, 73% of popluation of India are still not covered because of India’s expanded population, regarding the health insurance market. Addressing the gap, the Modi government last year launched the world’s largest public health insurance scheme, Ayushman Bharat. In 2017, the government of India also launched the National Health Policy, that aimed to twice the government spend, from 1.15% of the GDP to 2.5% by 2025. Yet, for instance, the budgetary allocation of INR 52,800 Cr for health in 2018-19 was hardly 5% higher than that of 2017/18 (INR 50,079.6 Cr).
Prashant Tandon, CEO and co-founder of Epharmacy startup 1 mg Technologies, shared his insights on Budget 2019, exclaiming, “While there must not be any negative surprises, the focus should be on healthcare with a clear articulation of enabling private participation. This requires a quicker regulatory response to encourage innovation and a clear mechanism of developing business models that are sustainable for all players.” The health tech fraternity is also batting for a medical innovation fund.