Funds Go to Med-tech R&D in Push for Healthcare Exports : Daily Current Affairs

Date: 03/02/2023

Relevance: GS-3: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Key Phrases: Sickle Cell Anaemia, corporate and manufacturing sectors, medical devices, medtech startups, public health services, high-end manufacturing, family welfare.


  • The Finance Minister recently announced a slew of measures for the health and pharmaceuticals industry, including greater push for research and innovation to boost the medtech sector as well as seeking to eradicate Sickle Cell Anaemia “in a mission mode” by 2047.

Key Highlights:

  • The budgetary allocation for the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for FY24 is at ₹86,175, compared to ₹76,370 crore for 2022-23.
  • The Centre has allocated ₹3,160 crore to Department of Pharmaceuticals for FY24, up by ₹892 crore compared to an estimated ₹2,268.54 crore in 2022-23 for the department.
  • Centres of Excellence: A new programme to promote research and innovation in pharmaceuticals will be taken up through centres of excellence.
  • Facilities in selected ICMR Labs will be available for research by the faculty of public and private medical colleges, as well as private sector R&D teams to encourage collaborative research and innovation.
  • Dedicated multidisciplinary courses for medical devices will be supported by existing institutions to ensure availability of skilled manpower for futuristic technologies, high-end manufacturing and research.
  • ICMR labs will be made available to the corporate and manufacturing sectors for developing medtech products, which will benefit medtech startups that may not have adequate resources to set up their own labs.

Do You Know?

  • India imports ₹63,000 crore worth of medical devices every year.
  • Over 80% of India’s population is not covered by health insurance forcing the patients to pay for expensive treatment from their own pockets.
  • WHO estimates that “about 930 million people worldwide are at risk of falling into poverty due to out-of-pocket health spending of 10% or more of their household budget.
  • India has among the highest out-of-pocket (OOP) expenditures of all countries in the world- 62% of the total health expenditure in India is OOP.

Why do we need a robust Healthcare system in India?

  • Governance Gaps:
    • Government spending on this vital part of the social sector has led to major flaws in this industry’s structure, leading to governance gaps.
  • Poor Medical Infrastructure:
    • According to the public health research organization Center for Disease Dynamics and Economic Policy, India had 69,265 hospitals in 2019, which translates roughly to one hospital for every 20,350 Indians.
    • This leaves a wide gap between the demand and supply of healthcare capacity.
    • The problem gets compounded by the fact that there are only 25,778 public hospitals against 43,487 private ones.
  • Proliferation Of Private Healthcare:
    • There are only 0.71 million beds in public hospitals against 1.18 million in the private sector out of the roughly 1.9 million hospital beds in India.
    • This points to growing inequality in access to healthcare. Various research studies have shown that the cost of treatment in private hospitals is in multiples of that in public hospitals.
    • Given that a large number of Indians reside in rural and semi-rural areas, it is clear that the number of public hospitals is inadequate.
  • Social Inequality:
    • The growth of health facilities has been highly imbalanced in India. Rural, hilly and remote areas of the country are underserved while in urban areas and cities, health facilities are well developed.
    • The SC/ST and the poor people are far away from modern health services.
  • Neglect of Rural Population:
    • A serious drawback of India’s health service is the neglect of rural masses. It is largely a service based on urban hospitals.
    • According to health information, 31.5% of hospitals and 16% hospital beds are situated in rural areas where 75% of total population resides.
    • Moreover the doctors are unwilling to serve in rural areas.

Initiatives to Improve Healthcare Sector:

  1. Infrastructural Development:
    • Infrastructure is a critical component in achieving the core goal of improving the quality of treatment and welfare for all patients, as well as a positive experience with the healthcare system.
  2. Improving the Doctor-Population Ratio:
    • In the next ten years, India aims to build 200 new medical institutions to satisfy a projected 600,000 doctor deficit.
  3. Decentralizing Public Health Services:
    • Decentralization of financial resources has increased the efficiency of health care.
    • Major policy decisions on decentralizing human resource management, increasing budgetary allocation, and increasing community participation in decision-making are needed.
  4. Public-Private Partnerships:
    • Increase the Public-Private Partnerships to increase the last-mile reach of healthcare.
  5. Use Information Technology:
    • Leveraging the benefits of Information Technology like computer and mobile-phone based e-health and m-health initiatives to improve quality of healthcare service delivery.
  6. Generic Drugs and Jan Aushadi Kendras Should Be Increased:
    • Generic drugs and Jan Aushadi Kendras should be increased to make medicines affordable and reduce the major component of Out of Pocket Expenditure.


  • Health is a basic human right as well as a worldwide social aim. It is necessary for the fulfillment of higher quality of life. Health is a factor that influences a country’s overall economic growth rate.
  • The current measures for the health and pharmaceuticals industry, including greater push for research and innovation to boost the medtech sector are steps in the right direction as they can enable India to become the world’s R&D and bio-manufacturing hub.

Source: Live Mint

Mains Question:

Q. What is the current scenario of pharma R&D and innovation in India? Discuss the steps that need to be taken to make India become the world’s R&D and bio-manufacturing hub. (250 Words).