India Inc stalwarts - Apollo Hospitals Managing Director Suneeta Reddy and Biocon Chairperson Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw - believe it is time healthcare sector in India gets treated like the IT sector was in its early days, which eventually led to its takeoff.
"I truly believe that the way impetus was given to the IT sector in terms of ease of land availability (at a subsidised rates) and tax benefits (tax holidays for as many as 10 years) are some of the things that need to be given to the healthcare sector in India so that we can create additional infrastructure and invest in skilling so that we do not just create more jobs but also the capabilities to deal with the complexities of the diseases as they emerge," says Reddy of Apollo Hospitals.
Agreeing, Biocon's Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, feels this is important that healthcare is treating like the IT sector and that it was time to invest in healthcare. "It is a capital intensive, skill intensive and an employment generating sector," she says.
Both Reddy and Shaw were speaking at an online panel discussion titled "Pharma and Healthcare's New Normal: Engaging with Customers in Uncertain Times; Business model post-COVID-19", organised by CorpGini in association with FICCI and Pharmexcil on Saturday. Apollo's Suneeta Reddy, feels "clearly this pandemic has shown us the need to strengthen the medical infrastructure. There needs to be investment in healthcare not just in building the infrastructure but also into skilling".
Speaking with BusinessToday.In later, she however was quick to reiterate that this is not to say that nothing has been done by the government. In fact, says, "a lot has been done by the government in helping to create new medical colleges, have medical colleges attached to district hospitals and even providing for viability gap funding (announced in the last Union Budget) for setting up hospitals in under served but much more needs to be done." Part of this, she feels, is also about how do we attract funding into the healthcare sector and also look at the public private partnership (PPP) models.
She also adds: "While efforts are on at the district level, much more also needs to be done, even in urban centres and tier II cities. So, we hope the government will consider us the next IT sector and give us the impetus to create both the infrastructure and provide for skilling and be in a position to attract foreign investment into the country. The healthcare sector is an important job creator because for every one person in healthcare, there are four other ancillary jobs that get created."