Make healthcare affordable for all: Doctors and chemists

Sakal Times
Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Pune: The medical fraternity and chemists have expressed the need for immediate attention to their fields. Doctors said that imported equipment must get tax exemptions and the focus of the Budget should be preventive healthcare. Chemists from the city said that e-way bills should not be taken from them and the focus of the Budget should be affordable medicines for all.

Pune: The medical fraternity and chemists have expressed the need for immediate attention to their fields. Doctors said that imported equipment must get tax exemptions and the focus of the Budget should be preventive healthcare. Chemists from the city said that e-way bills should not be taken from them and the focus of the Budget should be affordable medicines for all.

Importing equipment
Speaking to Sakal Times, Dr Dasmit Singh, Pediatric Surgeon at Jehangir Hospital, said that high-end surgeries require high-end equipment and there is hardly any such equipment manufactured in India. "We are forced to import equipment and we end up paying double. In places where the healthcare is nationalised, the government buys the equipment and equips hospitals. Doctors do not incur any expense. When we have to import such equipment, we have to pay a huge duty or tax on it. This should not be the case," he said. He suggested that if the equipment is not manufactured in India, the government should give a discount and completely waive off taxes. 

Avoidable blindness
Col Dr Madan Deshpande, Ophthalmologist and Chief Medical Director, PBMA's HV Desai Eye Hospital, Pune, said that the burden of avoidable blindness still remains a big challenge because of emerging new blinding diseases like diabetic retinopathy, childhood blindness, retinopathy of pre-maturity and glaucoma with cataract backlog in our country. 

"Hence, the government should allocate more funds for national programmes to control blindness. The government should also consider giving tax exemptions for importing eye care equipment to eye institutions providing free eye care services to more than 40 per cent patients, which will enable them to provide cost effective eye care," said Deshpande.

GST implementation
Prasanna Patil from Chemists Association of Pune district said that chemists support GST but the implementation has been very slow and unsatisfactory. The e-way bill, which will be applicable from February 1, will increase costs for chemists.

"Life saving drugs in diseases like cancer should be made affordable to everyone. Generic medicines are also at a high cost, which leaves huge margins. At least these medicines should be given at less than MRP to everyone," said Patil.

Echoing similar sentiments, Madan Patil, Organising secretary of the Maharashtra Chemists Association, said that the budget should focus on research allocation for making new drugs that are affordable to everyone.

There is a perception that healthcare is expensive. To encourage people for preventive healthcare, about which awareness is less, the government must cut taxes. Most hospital equipment is imported, which increases the cost. If at least the diagnostics and equipment required in ICUs is made in India, it will reduce costs and benefit patients.
- Madhur Varma, CEO Sahyadri Hospitals

We implement all government instructions and policies without any resistance, be it push for Aadhaar or pushing digital currency, and our expectation is not tax cuts but increased focus on healthcare spending in rural areas. Cancer needs to get priority. The government should also focus on preventive healthcare and can seek expertise from us private players. Chemotherapy drugs should be made more affordable. Also, imported stents and new modern stents should be allowed -- otherwise we will see an exodus of patients who can afford treatment heading abroad for such surgeries. 
- George Eapen, CEO & Director, Jehangir Hospital 

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