Funds go to medtech R&D in push for healthcare exports


New Delhi: Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday announced a slew of measures for the health and pharmaceuticals industry, including greater push for research and innovation to boost the medtech sector as well as seeking to eradicate Sickle Cell Anaemia “in a mission mode” by 2047. The budgetary allocation for the ministry of health and family welfare for FY24 is at 86,175, compared to 76,370 crore for 2022-23.

The vision for a Amrit Kaal budget comprises better access to healthcare services, artificial intelligence (AI)-based solutions driven by mass adoption of digital technology. The Centre has allocated 3,160 crore to Department of Pharmaceuticals for FY24, up by 892 crore compared to an estimated 2,268.54 crore in 2022-23 for the department. “A new programme to promote research and innovation in pharmaceuticals will be taken up through centres of excellence. We shall also encourage the industry to invest in research and development in specific priority areas,” said Sitharaman.

The FM said facilities in select ICMR Labs will be available for research by the faculty of public and private medical colleges, as well as private sector R&D teams to encourage collaborative research and innovation. That apart, dedicated multidisciplinary courses for medical devices will be supported by existing institutions to ensure availability of skilled manpower for futuristic technologies, high-end manufacturing and research, she added.

Industry experts said the moves will help promote the pharma and medical devices sectors and create a favourable environment for businesses. India imports 63,000 crore worth of medical devices every year, and the Centre aims to increase India’s share in global manufacturing of such devices. “ICMR labs will be made available to the corporate and manufacturing sectors for developing medtech products, which will benefit medtech startups that may not have adequate resources to set up their own labs. Multi-dimensional medical devices segment courses will create talent for the sector that faces a dearth of qualified manpower,” said Jatin Mahajan, secretary, Association of Diagnostic Manufacturers of India, and MD, J Mitra & Co.

“The FM has laid the foundation to spur inclusive growth, generate employment and accelerate India’s role in the global economy despite headwinds. The focus on pharma R&D and innovation is a step in the right direction as it can enable India become the worlds’ R&D and bio-manufacturing hub,” said Kiran Mazumdar- Shaw, chairperson, Biocon & Biocon Biologics.

The union budget has announced a mission to eliminate Sickle Cell Anaemia by 2047. The programe will entail awareness creation, universal screening of 7 crore people in the age group of 0-40 years in affected tribal areas, and counselling through collaborative efforts of central ministries and state governments.

Sickle Cell Disease (SCD), a genetic condition, is widespread among the tribal population in India where about 1 in 86 births among STs have SCD.

“Lack of awareness towards SCD is resulting in high disease burden in various parts of our country. Spreading awareness about this disabling disease is the need of the hour and I am with the government in this direction,” said Dr Archana Dhawan Bajaj, a senior gynecologist and IVF expert Nurture Clinic adding that government’s holistic approach on considering financial empowerment to women, establishing nursing colleges, access to clean water, hygiene, sanitization, vaccination, nutrition and green environment is highly appreciated.

Besides this, 157 new nursing colleges will be established in co-location with the existing 157 medical colleges established since 2014.

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Updated: 02 Feb 2023, 01:01 AM IST

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