India is a village based economy, as about 68 percent of its population (about 833 million people) live in 6,40,930 villages; the size of the villages varying from a population of less than 100 to about 70,000. Villages are not only the ‘feeder points’ (of providing raw material and manual labour) for urban areas, but are also the majority consumer market for urban industries and hence , ‘Smart Villages’ are essential for sustainability of smart cities project and Make in India. The issue of Smart villages is not about ‘fitment’ but of ‘sustainability’ of the entire economy. Also, when we talk of inclusive growth, villages cannot be left behind, else the growth of the country is not sustainable.
If we look at all the major initiatives of the Modi Government like; the Digital India Mission, Make in India , Swachh Bharat Mission , National Rural Livelihoods Mission, Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana and Deen Dayal Gram Jyoti Yojana; all of them dovetail into the ‘Model villages’ / ‘Smart Villages’ mission . The former President of India, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam had initiated the PURA Project ( Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas) to bridge the divide between the have’s and have not’s. All these initiatives clearly indicate that without uplifting villages, India cannot grow sustainably.
Also, let’s rethink on one important future prediction – that by 2050, 60 % of the population will live in towns. I believe that due to the increasing density, pollution and declining quality of life in towns, over the next 20 years, we will see reverse migration starting, i.e. people living in urban and mega metros will start migrating towards hinterland / semi-urban / villages, as these areas will be less polluted and more peaceful and will offer a much better quality of living conditions. We must be prepared for ensuring that the building blocks of managing the living of a modern family are an essential part of the Smart village design as villages will be the main hub of activity in the next three decades.
Building blocks for Smart Villages :
One has to understand that, to make the villages smart, one needs to have the underlying theme of being ‘asset light ‘ & ‘low cost’ and, the over arching theme of digitization. These will be driven by IOT / Sensors. Almost all the challenges in rural areas are an opportunity for deployment of technology as a smart solution. Future of the village lies in adopting ‘idiot proof’, ‘future proof’ and low-cost technologies that can be used and serviced by the residents and can serve them well!
Building blocks of health for Smart Villages :
If 68 % of the population of the country (living in villages) is not healthy, then the growth of the country is at stake. Healthy population is the best insurance against recession and slow growth. We have to ensure that we provide enough options for people to adopt a healthy lifestyle and stay fit to be productive, and for this to happen, we need to leverage technology to its optimum use, integrated seamlessly into the daily life of the residents of the village.
It is expected that in the next 5-7 years, every household will have access to a phone , house , potable water and electricity and road and hence it is good to consider mobile phone as the basic necessity besides food , clothing , water, electricity and shelter. All the services from the government must converge to mobile-based platforms.
For health in a smart village, we need to visualize the following building blocks;
Mobile Electronic health record (m-EHR) is the starting point for health in a Smart village, as without Electronic health record , people cannot deliver healthcare using technology and these electronic health records should not be PC based but mobile based.
Once we have the m-EHR, the next thing we need is a pin-code wise geo tagging of all healthcare facilities and professionals, so that people can reach nearest healthcare provider or professional keeping the golden hour concept as the basis .
Also, one of the major draw back in distant / rural areas is the delay in getting the data and incidence of diseases, and hence, we need live data and electronic event reporting . Live data will not only lead to timely interventions, but also help in demand based supply chain, thereby ensuring appropriate supplies and reducing stock outs
Also, today there are enough point of care, non- invasive diagnostics which can be deployed for Health Screening using mobile platforms . Using these technologies, diseases can be detected on time, leading to appropriate interventions . We all know that tertiary care eats up about 75% of all healthcare costs and major part of the household savings, and hence technology driven POC (Point of care) screening would be the most effective way to manage healthcare from a cost, prevention and outcomes point of view
Also, as long as we focus on the allopathic doctor based healthcare system, we will not be able to address the issue of shortage of doctors in rural areas , and hence , we will need to use technology to its best across the continuum of care. We will need to move from the ‘Golden Hour’ rule of providing critical care in 40 minutes to a ‘Golden minute’ rule of providing health advice over phone in less than four minutes, and this is very much doable. Also, there are enough studies, which prove that, about 65-80 percent of the time, we don’t need a face-to-face consultation with a doctor. Given the fact that majority of the expenditure in healthcare is on infrastructure and salaries, we must empanel practicing doctors to provide services to the rural people and pay them per consultation. This will make healthcare accessible for the population and more affordable to the exchequer.
The next logical building block would be an ePrescription, so that, after the doctor’s tele-consultation with the patient, s/he can send an ePrescription which is digitally authenticated. This will lead to delivery of medicines either though an ATM machine dispensing medicines or routing the same through a local chemist.
I have visited rural areas across the country and found that sub-centres typically cost between Rs.7.00 lacs to more than 14.00 lacs, plus the salaries and maintenance . I think it is time that the government makes a policy to replace sub-centres with mobile health centres – eHealth centres, which can move the direction of healthcare services from the current ‘to the doctor’ to ‘to the household / population’ approach, and moreover, these mobile health centres can also double up as an ambulance as and when needed. Doctors can come from the nearest semi-urban and urban areas, examine the patient, treat them and go back in the evening. This might work better than the sub-centres in one remote part of the village where the patient has to take pains to travel for kilometers to see the so called absentee doctor !
Smart villages have the potential to extensively deploy Digital Tools / IOT, and flip the ‘doctor centric’ & ‘Tertiary care’ model in the coming decade and lead the way for containing the cost of healthcare`
This is a part of the speech delivered at the Vibrant Gujarat summit 2017. Views are personal
India needs a holistic care system that is universally accessible, affordable and effective and drastically reduces the out of pocket spending on health. NRHM has failed to meet the objectives and will be radically reformed. BJP accords high priority to health sector, which is crucial for securing the economy.
The overarching goal of healthcare would be to provide, ‘Health Assurance to all Indians and to reduce the out of pocket spending on health care’, with the help of state governments.
The current situation calls for radical reforms in the healthcare system with regards to national healthcare programs and delivery, medical education and training and financing of healthcare. Our government would focus on the following reforms in healthcare:
- the last healthcare policy dates back to 2002. India now needs a comprehensive healthcare policy to address the complex healthcare challenges, keeping in view the developments in the healthcare sector and the changing demographics. BJP will initiate the New Health Policy.
- initiate the ‘National Health Assurance Mission’, with a clear mandate to provide universal healthcare that is not only accessible and affordable, but also effective, and reduces the OOP spending for the common man.
- Education and Training – Will review the role of various professional regulatory bodies in healthcare and consider setting up an overarching lean body for healthcare. High priority will be given to address the shortfall of healthcare professionals.
- Modernize Government hospitals, upgrading infrastructure and latest technologies.
- Reorganize Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in order to converge various departments dealing in healthcare, food and nutrition and pharmaceuticals, for effective delivery of healthcare services.
- Increase the number of medical and para-medical colleges to make India self sufficient in human resources, and set up an AIIMS like institute in every state.
- Yoga and Ayurveda are the gifts of ancient Indian civilization to humanity and we will increase the public investment to promote Yoga and AYUSH. We will start integrated courses for Indian System of Medicine (ISM) and modern science and Ayurgenomics. We will set up institutions and launch a vigorous program to standardize and validate the Ayurvedic medicine.
- Move to pre-emptive care model where the focus and thrust will be on child health and prevention.
- School health program would be a major focus area, and health and hygiene will be made a part of the school curriculum.
- Focus on Rural Health care delivery.
- Senior Citizens healthcare would be a special focus area.
- Give high priority to chronic diseases, and will invest in research and development of solutions for chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes, cancer, CVD etc.
- Occupational health programs will be pursued aggressively.
- Utilize the ubiquitous platform of mobile phones for healthcare delivery and set up the “National eHealth Authority” to leverage telemedicine and mobile healthcare for expanding reach and coverage and to define the standards and legal framework for technology driven care.
- Universalization of emergency medical services-108.
- Re-orientation of herbal plants board to encourage farming of herbal plants.
- Population stabilization would be a major thrust area and would be pursued as a mission mode program.
- Programme for Women Healthcare with emphasis on rural, SC, ST and OBC in a mission mode.
- Mission mode project to eradicate malnutrition.
- Launch National Mosquito Control mission.
Poor Hygiene and Sanitation have a far reaching, cascading impact. We will ensure a “Swachh Bharat” by Gandhi ji’s 150th birth anniversary in 2019, taking it up in mission mode by converging resources and building around jan bhagidari:
- Create an open defecation free India by awareness campaign and enabling people to build toilets in their home as well as in schools and public places.
- Set up modern, scientific sewage and waste management systems.
- We will introduce Sanitation Ratings measuring and ranking our cities and towns on ‘sanitation’; and rewarding the best performers.
- Make potable drinking water available to all thus reducing water–borne diseases, which will automatically translate into Diarrhoea–free India.
Rajendra Pratap Gupta
Authored the BJP Election Manifesto 2014 under the Chairmanship of Dr.Murli Manohar Joshi
Rajendra Pratap Gupta
President & Member
Board of Directors
October 27, 2013
Shri Keshav Desiraju
Secretary to the Government of India
Ministry of Health & Family Welfare
Nirman Bhawan, New Delhi – 110108.
Reference: Need for a National Health Policy – NHP
Dear Shri Keshav ji,
I am writing on behalf of the Disease Management Association of India – The Population Health Improvement Alliance. We have been proactively taking up issues with regards to healthcare policy & reforms in India.
On February 01, 2013, when you were appointed as the Health Secretary, people involved with the health sector felt happy that the nation had got its best health secretary! Expectations are running high!
This communiqué is about the need for setting up a team to draft the National Health Policy. Since the last National Health Policy was drafted more than 10 years ago in 2002, a lot of things have changed, like;
- NRHM was launched in 2005 as a flagship program focused on rural health
- RSBY was launched
- Pandemic outbreaks like H1N1 (Swine Flu) have been a surprise and have shaken the world
- Rise of MDR – T.B.
- Increase in the incidence of chronic diseases & the issues related to child health
- Occupational hazards
- High IMR/MMR & MDGs deadline approaching in 2015
Besides, a lot of other developments have taken place, like;
- UID –Aadhaar number for the entire population have been initiated
- Emergence of mHealth & telemedicine
- Newer technological interventions for diagnostics and treatment
- Emergence of Big Data Analytics
- Also that, India is focusing on transitioning the healthcare system to Universal Coverage
- Emergence of innovative concepts, like Disease Management, ACOs (Accountable Care Organizations), HMOs (Health Management Organizations) & Meaningful use.
- Emergence of the prominent role of civil society organizations in healthcare delivery
- Role of social media
The 12th five year plan has often been referred to as the plan for health, and I believe, that it is the right time to set up a committee to draft the new National Health Policy by 2015. Even if the committee is set up in early 2014, it will take at least a year to do the survey and complete the policy and so, most likely, the NHP would be tabled by 2015 and would cover a period of next 10 years (2015-2025).
We are sure that you will consider our request seriously and initiate the process for the new National Health Policy
With best wishes and with warm regards
Rajendra Pratap Gupta
Dr.Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister, Government of India.
Shri. Ghulam Nabi Azad, Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare
Dr.Syeda Hameed, Member, Planning Commission, Government of India
Presidents of all the National Political Parties
I was on a call with a leading political party to discuss the Universal Health Coverage and i raised the following points for them to attend ;
1. Defining the UHC – We need to first define , what is Universal Health Coverage .
2. Focusing on execution – increasing the absorptive capacity on healthcare system – Even 1 % of GDP allocated to healthcare is not being used properly . How will we use 3 % ?
3. Ideating the UHC model – whether it should be pay for use ( except for BPL ) ? Anything free will be worse than what we have today
4. Using technology including telemedicine and mHealth
5. PPP for healthcare outcomes and delivery
Hopefully , this party will be taking care of these points as well . This is the third political party that has sought my views on its Health Policy
Rajendra Pratap Gupta
Rajendra Pratap Gupta spoke at the United Nations General Assembly Hall on the issue of NCDs ( Chronic Diseases). This was for the Heads of State Summit on NCDs.
Yesterday, i participated in the meeting of what the United Nations must do to the MDG’s ( millenium Development Goals ) post 2015 , when the MDG’s comes to an end in terms of the timeline .
I have suggested that ‘ without sustainable livelihoods for a family’ , MDG’s could never be achieved , so this must come at the forefront .
Access to ICT’s should be made a MDG
Improving life expectancy makes sense seeing the infant mortality and maternal mortality
Further , the MDG’s related to health be ‘clubbed’ and the definition be expanded to provide access to ‘ Preventive health’ as a MDG
Multi-skilling along with education needs to be put than the universal primary education as a MDG
Also, private sector needs to be involved in conceptualization , planning and execution . I further added , that , if the private sector was involved as a partner in MNAREGA and MRHM , things would have been different
Charity is as deep as profits …… time to work as a TEAM ( PPP), else ‘laudable’ goals will become ‘laughable’
Rajendra Pratap Gupta