25 August 2010
By Pushpa Narayan
The Upcoming Vaccine Park That Will Bottle New–generation Vaccines And Units Manufacturing Indigenous Medical Equipment Will Cut Costs In Healthcare
According to GSK Velu, managing director of the Trivitron group of companies, "Import of equipment and diagnostic kits increases the cost of care. One way of cutting costs is to manufacture them locally." The company, with an investment of Rs 250 crore, has signed up with at least seven manufacturers, including those from Spain, Germany and Japan, to set up shop in the special economic zone. "Trivitron has already started its manufacturing unit. By next year, others will also kick off. We hope to cater to at least 50% of the Indian market by 2011–end. We will also be exporting equipment," he said.
The centralised vaccine park on 330 acres of land in Chengalpet near Chennai will have several pharmaceutical companies producing vaccines. Officials at the Union health ministry said the park with its stateof–the–art infrastructure for research and production of vaccines, including new generation vaccines, would become operational by the end of 2011.
The park, developed by HLL Lifecare Ltd (earlier called Hindustan Latex Limited), a public sector undertaking of the ministry of health and family welfare, will work in partnership with private sector companies. The park is estimated to cost Rs 1,000 crore. Union health secretary Sujatha Rao said, "When the park is ready, it will adhere to all good manufacturing practices and provide quality vaccines".
Healthcare– one of the vital sectors of the economy – was expected to be the next big business after IT–BPO, said analyst NJ Gowrishankar of HSB consultancy. The Indian healthcare market valued at Rs 1,70,600 crore in 2007 is expected to touch Rs 4,00,000 crore by 2016. "Such parks will add brand value to the city. While metros like Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore have been fighting to be the most preferred healthcare destination, Chennai has always been silent. While most cities have the advantage of language, Chennai beats them in two things – care and cost," he said.
There are several reasons –from sound infrastructure to doyens in healthcare – that make things work for Chennai. The city’s doctors are among the senior–most in the country. "For many doctors here, medicine is passion. They don’t retire," said senior surgeon Dr BS Tiruvadanan. "The oldest practising doctor in the city is urologist Dr A Venugopal, a nonagenarian. There are several others in their 80s still attending to patients, if not operating," he said.
On the one hand, several patients from developing nations like Myanmar, Bangaladesh and African countries come here as they don’t have access to advanced healthcare in their countries. On the other, people from countries like the UK and the US fly in because of the prohibitive healthcare costs there.
The cost, doctors said, was not attained by compromising on quality. "Our standard of care is second to none," said Apollo Hospitals chairman Dr Prathap C Reddy, who established the country’s first private corporate hospital in the city 25 years ago. "But bigger than anything is how we embrace traditional forms of medicine like Siddha, Ayurveda, and Unani. While we offer keyhole bariatric surgeries, we also offer weight loss courses through yoga," he said.
The city boasts of institutions like the National Institute of Siddha and hundreds of doctors practising traditional medicine. "This is probably the only city with formal training, hospitals and government job advantage in all streams of Indian medicine," said Dr Hakim Sayed Khaleefathullah, a senior practitioner of unani and vice–president of The Central Council of Indian Medicine.
And it’s not just the private sector. Tamil Nadu already has favourable health indicators compared to the other states. It has a better life expectancy than the national average. Men here live 10 years more than the national average of 57 and for women it’s 11 years more than the country’s average of 59.
With nearly 98% of deliveries taking place at hospitals and 99% coverage during immunisation drives, the state has always been a role model. It has also managed to have 100% registration of all births. In its effort to produce more doctors and reduce the doctor–patient ratio, the state government has established nearly 17 medical colleges, which take in 1,945 students every year. "We are now reaping the success of the seeds we sowed decades ago. To remain high on the healthcare index, we continue to invest time, money and minds," said health secretary VK Subburaj.