Reddy of Apollo Hospitals Urges US, India to Act Together on Health Challenges

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Washington, DC – There is a wide cost differential between India and the US when it comes to surgical procedures, according to a top executive of a major group of hospitals based in Chennai.

Participating in an interactive session, “US and India: Innovating Health Care,” organized jointly by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) here on July 24, Prathap Reddy, Chairman of the Apollo Group of Hospitals, stressed that comparable surgeries in India cost one-tenth of the price in the US. High quality healthcare and cost benefit is hence a major priority area, he added.

“The three biggest challenges India faces in the healthcare sector,” Reddy identified, “are the paucity of hospital beds for people (1 bed for 1,050 people, versus 1 bed for 250 people in the US); the lack of skilled health human resources; and the rise in both infectious and non-communicable diseases.”

Reddy pointed out that India is facing alarming numbers of cases of heart disease, cancer and diabetes. For example, the number of diabetes cases in India, earlier projected at 36 million by 2020, has already surpassed 75 million.

Soon, 1 out of every 5 diabetic patients in the world will be Indian. For cancer, in particular, Reddy mentioned expansion of screening services as an area in need of great attention.

Referring to the Apollo Group’s own efforts in providing healthcare, he highlighted that the hospitals are able to perform coronary bypass surgeries at a cost of $3,000 for middle and lower income patients, and has maintained the cost over the past 20 years.

Acknowledging the tremendous contributions made by research organizations in the US in diagnosis, methodology, innovation, research and technology in the healthcare sector, Reddy called for greater collaboration between India and the US.

Declaring the healthcare challenge solvable, and a key area where the US and India can work together, Reddy emphasized the need for new tools to transform healthcare delivery, such as through information technology. He lauded the ongoing efforts in the US to digitize healthcare data through electronic medical records, while hoping that such technology would be brought to India as well. Applying existing innovations from the US, Europe and other areas to countries like India is thus critical, he said.

Ambassador Karl Inderfurth, Wadhwani Chair in US-India Policy Studies at CSIS kicked off the session and highlighted the increase in US-India cooperation across key sectors such as security, energy, defense, science and technology, among others. (IATNS)

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