Private sector healthcare players are hinging hopes on what the Rs 20 lakh crore economic stimulus package will have for them since there was no specific mention of targeted boost for the sector in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's speech. Some argue that could be since health is a state subject and therefore much depends on yet to-be announced details of the package.
"If there is one clear message from the onslaught of the coronavirus, is putting the spotlight on healthcare and the need to strengthen it. There is need to raise GDP spend on healthcare from the current 1.5 per cent to at least 4 per cent," says B S Ajaikumar, Chairman and CEO, HealthCare Global, the Bengaluru-headquartered chain of cancer care hospitals.
India, he says, "today spends just $83 per capita, compared to $500 in China and a high $19,000 in the US. We need to spend at least $200-300 per capita," he says. While, he welcomes the PM's package to stimulate the economy, special mention of healthcare and the need to provide it targeted support, would have added much-needed fillip to the sector, he feels. "Healthcare can bring an economy to a standstill and therefore specific stimulus to hospitals, would be crucial. This would have to be for smaller cash-strapped hospitals." Today, 70-80 per cent of Indian healthcare is being addressed by private providers.
Suneeta Reddy, Managing Director of Apollo Hospitals, says, "The intent is very good because the PM has committed 10 per cent of GDP. He also spoke about becoming self-reliant and converting the crisis into an opportunity to boost manufacturing in India." "Healthcare is underlying in all pillars of self-reliance that the PM has talked of," she says.