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Stable regulatory environment needed for medical technology sector: MTaI

·3-min read

New Delhi, Dec 31 (PTI) Timely payment of dues by government, transparency while taking price control measures and a stable regulatory environment are required to revive the medical technology sector in the country, as per a whitepaper released by the Medical Technology Association of India (MTaI).

The whitepaper -- The MedTech Industry in India – COVID-19 and Beyond -- prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) also stresses on the need for hospitals to drive patient and doctor confidence besides collaborating with medical technology companies for clinical research.

It further noted that medical technology companies should continue using digital means to enhance their outreach, and conduct training programs for junior doctors to upgrade their skill.

'The PwC report gives a comprehensive account of how the entire healthcare continuum has been battling challenges on multiple fronts and has shown grit in the face of adversity to remain devoted to its cause. It is clear that urgent measures are required to reverse the trend of falling revenues and profitability,' MTaI Chairman Pavan Choudary said.

The measures should be evidence based and shorn of ideology and therefore, the solution is not plain vanilla protectionism, but smart globalisation, which will help maintain the supply chain continuity with substantial room for localisation manoeuvres, he added.

'Such an approach will help us expand the economy without shrinking our indigenization drive and undermining our geo-commercial preparedness,' Choudary said.

The PwC whitepaper noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the challenges for providing better access to quality healthcare to Indian patients as hospitals have either postponed or shelved their capital expenditure plans due to a sharp drop in revenues this year.

As per the whitepaper, majority of hospital beds have been held up for COVID-19 treatment, creating a shortage for other cases.

Senior doctors, who are part of the high-risk population, still have low confidence to visit hospitals and perform surgeries safely. These factors, coupled with fear of infection, have restricted patient access to elective treatments, the paper added.

India has hospital bed density of 1.3 beds and doctor density of 0.69 for 1,000 people, whereas WHO recommends a minimum threshold of 5 beds and 1 doctor per 1,000 people, it said.

The paper stated that the projects to increase healthcare access have been hampered by the pandemic and could potentially see delays in the near future.

The situation may improve in the mid-to-long term if all stakeholders work together to increase the number of beds, improve ICU capacity, recruit medical practitioners on contract, weigh the option of extending services of retiring doctors and nurses, it noted.

The paper said that even before COVID-19, the medical technology industry was reeling from depreciation of Indian rupee by almost 7-8 per cent in March against euro and the US dollar, and policy decisions like imposition of additional health cess on imported medical devices.

'These challenges were further compounded by the shrinking number of elective procedures, as COVID-19 infections increased exponentially which induced a nationwide lockdown and significantly eroded the bottomline of the industry,' it said.

The whitepaper also stated that the ability of the country's middle class to afford healthcare services has reduced due to the contracting economy and job losses. PTI MSS RVK