New Delhi, Jun 29: Echoing the urgency of healthcare reforms ranging from restructuring of Ayushman Bharat Yojana (AB-PMJAY) to accelerating the digital health mission, experts and industry leaders have outlined key priorities for the Modi government in its third consecutive term.

Their statements highlight the importance of prioritising preventive healthcare measures, strengthening infrastructure, and increasing healthcare spending.

Healthcare experts have expressed concerns about whether the government in its new term will make any difference by increasing public expenditure on healthcare to the desired level in India.

Notably, the National Health Policy (NHP) 2017, which promises to increase public health spending to 2.5 percent of the GDP, remains overdue even as Indians rely heavily on private services.

Dr Girdhar Gyani, Director General, AHPI (Association of Healthcare Providers, India) said, "In the upcoming term, we urge the government to prioritise a comprehensive approach to fostering a 'Healthy India'. This entails promoting preventive health measures focusing on sanitation, clean drinking water, and nutrition, alongside the rapid implementation of health and wellness Centres for preventive health education and screening."

Intensifying the 'Fit India Movement', strengthening occupational health schemes, and restructuring the Ayushman Bharat Yojana to reach all SECC-2011 beneficiaries are also crucial steps, Dr Gyani said.

He also highlighted the importance of incentivising the private sector to establish tertiary care facilities in tier-III cities, promoting the indigenisation of medical equipment, and accelerating the National Digital Health Mission to address healthcare infrastructure gaps and achieve universal health coverage through increased government spending.

Expressing his views, Probal Ghosal, chairman and director, Ujala Cygnus Group of Hospitals said, "As we embark on the next five-year term under the newly-elected government, there's a prime opportunity to catalyse transformation in the healthcare infrastructure, enhancing the lives of millions."

"Increased healthcare spending, coupled with initiatives like AB-PMJAY, can benefit both the public and private sectors, albeit requiring adjustments in pricing structures. Addressing the shortage of healthcare staff and providing regulatory relief, particularly in GST input credit, will alleviate burdens on the industry," Ghosal said.

"Moreover, focusing on India's potential as a medical tourism destination can boost revenue for private hospitals and establish the nation as a global healthcare leader," he pointed out.

Abhishek Kapoor, CEO, Regency Health, said the new government faces a critical opportunity to prioritise universal healthcare.

"A comprehensive roadmap is essential, focusing on long-term infrastructure financing, expanding medical education, and implementing fiscal reforms in health insurance. Elevating the healthcare budget to 2.5 per cent of GDP is pivotal for progress," Kapoor said.

Streamlining the GST framework, enhancing healthcare professional skills, and strengthening infrastructure in tier II and III cities are equally crucial, he added.

Kapoor also advocated for providing infrastructure status for private sector investment, facilitating low-cost funding, and incentivising specialists to serve in these areas.

Budget allocations for primary care, tax exemptions, and expanding primary health centres (PHCs) through public-private partnerships (PPPs) are essential steps, according to the CEO of Regency Health.

Furthermore, integrating government schemes under a unified digital platform will enhance efficiency and accelerate payments for private healthcare providers, he said. PTI