The first Health Working Group Meeting of G20 India Presidency came to a close on Friday with India pitching for a Heal in India, Heal by India, and Heal from India approach.
Delivering the keynote address on medical value travel (MVT), Niti Aayog member Dr V K Paul said that the Government of India will soon be launching a “Heal in India” initiative to leverage its healthcare services for international patients, “Heal by India” initiative to send out healthcare workforce to other countries and capitalise its strength in the telemedicine sector to pave the way for “Heal from India” initiative.
Dr Paul also pitched for a wider use of traditional medical practices like Ayurveda in the MVT sector. Stating that MVT is witnessing a combined annual growth rate of over 23%, he stressed on the need to build a resilient and sustainable MVT framework. According to him, MVT should focus on maintaining, improving or restoring health through medical intervention instead of the common parlance of visiting another country to seek medication. “It can be achieved by providing access to quality and cost-effective medical care, transparent pricing, seamless travel to medical value travel destinations, attainment of Universal Health Coverage and ensuring low waiting time for medical treatment”, he pointed out.
Dr Paul also highlighted four key enablers to achieve Universal Health Coverage which includes incorporating digitisation and technology advancements; renewing focus on holistic healing through integrated healthcare offerings; ensuring effective quality assurance through regulation, standardization, accreditation and streamlining of institutional procedures; and forming partnerships among stakeholders for convergence of health, hospitality and travel services.
Emphasising the need to strengthen the ecosystem for MVT, Dr Paul underscored the need for effective governance and policy framework, including setting up a dedicated board and agency for Medical Value Travel. He stressed on the need for developing standards and accreditation for healthcare facilities and Medical Travel Facilitators and called for enabling digitisation in the MVT segment. He further highlighted the need for ensuring availability of medical insurance portability and coverage of traditional systems of medicine under insurance policies at the international level, enhancing accessibility and patient experience through a liberalised visa policy and improved air connectivity and capacity building of healthcare enterprises and staff.
Dr Paul emphasised that to enhance the attractiveness of a destination, it is important to create an ecosystem of quality, affordability, expertise in healthcare services, low waiting time for treatment, ease of communication, incorporation of technological advancements and ensure medical insurance availability. In this regard, he urged the G20 member countries to make synergised efforts towards achieving universal health coverage, form sustainable collaborations between govt, industry, academia and experts to make healthcare and wellness services accessible, improve utilization of available resources across the globe and create resilient MVT ecosystem to ensure equitable access to affordable and quality healthcare without financial hardships to people across national borders.
Rajesh Kotecha, Secretary, Ministry of AYUSH, Lav Agarwal, Additional Secretary, Health Ministry, Vishal Chauhan, Joint Secretary, Health Ministry, representatives from the G20 member countries, special invitee countries, international organisations, forums and partners like WHO, World Bank, WEF etc., and senior officers of the Union Government were present on the closing day of the three day meeting of the Health Working Group of G20 India, at Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.