India needs a medical workforce of 7.4 million and at least 550 new medical colleges to be at par with the global average of doctors in 2030 and be ready to serve a burgeoning number of people suffering from communicable and non-communicable diseases (NCDs), says global consultancy firm KPMG.

In a recent report titled “15 top priorities for transforming Indian healthcare: the 2024 agenda”, the consultancy estimates the rising burden of non-communicable diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart illnesses, etc, to cost India $4.58 trillion by 2030. It also expects the share of senior citizens in India to increase from 8.6% of the population in 2011 to 13.1 % by 2031. “Unless acted upon immediately, India will run out of time to harness the potential of its youth to drive economic growth, as well as adequately plan for a large geriatric population to be housed by 2050,” says the report.

Terming India’s ongoing efforts to improve the health of its citizens through various national missions like Ayushman Bharat, Swachh Bharat Mission, Fit India Movement etc, as welcome moves, Dr Anna van Poucke, global head of healthcare, KPMG International said the country needs to accelerate on the journey for optimal results.

“New healthcare models or ecosystem of solutions are being envisioned and implemented in India, which are increasing the accessibility of healthcare for the population, allow providers to be more effective in care delivery, helping patients to take control of their health by using their data, and forcing healthcare organisations to use these date to deliver more personalised treatments. India is taking major steps for the overall strengthening of the Indian healthcare system, however, to increase the resilience and sustainability of the system and to ensure preparedness against future pandemics, the government and the private players need to accelerate the journey they have started, and need an overarching program, to ensure that the right steps are taken at the right time” she said.

The KPMG report highlights expanding financing for ‘Healthy India’, promoting it as a mass movement, launching a healthcare sector promotion programme on the lines of production linked incentive (PLI) scheme, universal health coverage, strengthening the primary care system, redefining and reviving public-private partnerships, driving Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM) till the last mile, etc, as some of the priorities before the government to transform the Indian healthcare sector.

A ‘national health app’ for aggregating healthcare services across the value chain, a ‘national task force’ for healthcare workforce development, a ‘national medical network’, a ‘national health quality index’ and a transparency system have all been proposed. Enhanced use of telemedicine, virtual care, metaverse, etc, to speed up the transformation is part of the suggestions.

“India is witnessing cohesive efforts post COVID-19 pandemic from all the relevant stakeholders towards building a healthy nation. India should continue the momentum and prioritise these systemic reforms in a phased manner by focusing on key areas for the next two years”, says Lalit Mistry, partner and co-head of healthcare sector, KPMG in India.

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