Increasing cost of health care a challenge for experts assembled in Mumbai for 3-day world summit

Experts plan to come up with such ideal health-care model which will be affordable for the common man

Tata world summit
Dr RA Badwe, Director, Tata Memorial Centre  (TMC), discusses the TMC model as part of a session on ‘Sustainable Models of Health Institutions’ at the 75th anniversary of TMC at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai on Friday

Tata Memorial Centre’s world summit titled ‘Is Healthcare a commodity or basic human need’ started in Mumbai from Friday. Health experts from Japan, France, Iran, Thailand and Brazil represented their respective country’s health-care delivery model system, which spends more of their GDP on health-care services. The summit will conclude on Sunday, January 29.

While India spends 1.5% of its GDP on health-care services, France spends 11 % of its GDP on healthcare. Iran spends 6.6% and Thailand spends 6% of its GDP on health-care services. Among the common concern for these countries is increasing ‘cost’ and ‘increasing expenses’.

Karine Chevreul, Professor, Public Health, Health Economics and Health Services Research Unit at University of Paris, said, “Our national expenditure on health is more than national wealth. The rising cost of health care and the increasing demand for long-term care are also cause of concern.”

Explaining the health model of France, Chevreul added, “Public financing of health-care expenditure is among the highest in Europe and out-of-pocket spending among the lowest. Public insurance is compulsory and covers the resident population. It is financed by employee and employer contributions as well as increasingly through taxation.”

Professor in Health Policy and Community Health at the college of social sciences, Ritsumeikan University, Royzo Matsuda, said, “The answer to whether health is a commodity or need is very complex. Health service exists as both commodity and need all over the world. But for the well being of the larger number of common people, health should be considered as a need by reducing the gap between cost and accessibility.”

Tata Memorial Center, which is completing 76 years of service in the health sector, decided to take one step further with this conference.

“Our motivation behind this world summit is cost of health-care service. Large number of people can’t afford good health care at reasonable price in our country. So, through this conference, we plan to come up with such ideal health-care model, which will be affordable for every common man,” said Dr Rajendra A Badwe, Director, Tata Memorial Centre.

“The three-day-long discussion on affordable health service is not going to be limited to this summit only. We are going to document whole of this discourse, which we will send to government to make appropriate action plan for India’s health-care system,” Badwe added.

On Saturday, Nobel laureate and economist Dr Amartya Sen will address the question ‘Health for All: Why and How?’, along with this there will be a panel discussion on health spending, auditing, financing and affordability of health care.

To discuss the health-care service of India, Sanjay Oak, Former Director, Medical Education and Major Hospitals, presented the Public Hospital Model.

“Never consider health as a commodity, serve it as a public service. Though there are many obstacles in providing best health service in public sector, like corruption, absence of accountability etc. We need to work to develop this system by changing our approach, straightening day care facilities, increasing beds at the ICU (Intensive Care Unit). We need to bring more efficiency in our system,” said Oak.

The conference is being held in collaboration with Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and Tata Trust.