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Digital Healthcare is Central in Bridging Urban, Rural Gap: Union Minister Jitendra Singh 

Written by : Jayati Dubey

August 25, 2023

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The minister emphasised the critical importance of reducing the disparity in healthcare services between urban and rural areas through digital healthcare. He proposed the adoption of a public-private partnership (PPP) model within the healthcare sector to accomplish this objective. 

Jitendra Singh, the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Science and Technology, highlighted the potential of digital healthcare as a powerful tool in preventing a range of diseases, from lifestyle-related disorders such as Type 2 diabetes mellitus to infectious ailments such as COVID-19.  

He said this at a recently held 3rd Healthcare Leaders' Summit held in New Delhi. 

He also introduced the Anusandhan National Research Foundation (ANRF) Bill, designed to encourage corporate investment in research and development. Singh noted the pivotal role of science and technology in addressing societal needs and global challenges. 

Under the proposed bill, a unique PPP entity is in the works, with private sector funding amounting to INR 36,000 Cr and government funding contributing INR 14,000 Cr, ensuring substantial industry participation. 

Further, the Minister underscored that the future of healthcare lies in digital solutions focussed on prevention. He stressed that bridging the gap between urban and rural healthcare services is essential and suggested the implementation of a public-private partnership (PPP) model in the healthcare sector to achieve this goal. 

"Incorporating science and technology can effectively narrow the disparities between urban and rural healthcare by prioritizing affordability, inclusivity, and accessibility," he said. 

He praised India's progress in enhancing its healthcare infrastructure over the years and acknowledged the evolution of disease profiles and medical treatments.  

He pointed out that since the 1980s, there has been a global shift towards non-communicable diseases, attributing this to factors including changing lifestyles, which consequently led to the rise of conditions such as coronary diseases. This shift has been accompanied by an increase in life expectancy, with people now living close to 70 years on average. 

Given India's prominent position in diabetes research globally, Singh expressed a particular focus on preventing diabetes in the younger population and expectant mothers.  

With nearly 70% of India's population under the age of 40, he stressed the significance of preventive healthcare measures and widespread mass screening to support the country's economic growth trajectory outlined by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for 2047. 

The 3rd Healthcare Leaders' Summit served as a platform for industry experts, policymakers, and healthcare stakeholders to engage in discussions regarding the future of healthcare in India. The event highlighted the potential of digital healthcare not only in treating diseases but also in proactively preventing their occurrence. 

Minister Singh's address resonated with the summit's theme of leveraging technology for accessible and affordable healthcare. His insights underscored the necessity of collaborative efforts between the public and private sectors to ensure comprehensive healthcare services and bridge the gap between urban and rural areas. 


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