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Times Of India
01 August 2011
New Delhi, India

One–Day Meet Charts Ways Of Collaboration
Cardiac surgeon Naresh Trehan, chairman of the CII national committee on healthcare, and Pakistan’s Sania Nishtar, founder and president of Heartfile, at the meeting in Delhi Cardiac surgeon Naresh Trehan, chairman of the CII national committee on healthcare, and Pakistan’s Sania Nishtar, founder and president of Heartfile, at the meeting in Delhi
Opening a new avenue for synergy, Aman Ki Asha (AKA)—a joint peace initiative between the Times of India and the Jang group of Pakistan—moved to a higher level of cooperation with a oneday meeting in which health committees of doctors, ministry officials and representatives of pharmaceutical companies resolved to collaborate on certain core issues.

The convention, organized with CII support, agreed to work together on ensuring access to affordable medicines, tackling childhood obesity, addressing thalassemia and hepatitis, apart from collaborating on issues of reproductive health, tobacco use and youth fertility.

The joint declaration summed up the spirit of the initiative by stressing the need to ensure that populations of both countries get an opportunity to attain the highest level of health and well–being. The declaration also pointed to the collaboration required to address inequities in health and disability among the poor in both countries, and called upon governments to facilitate trade in health to promote access to quality, affordable healthcare. The meet was the second of a series of sectoral interactions to enable lasting peace between the two nations. A similar event was held earlier in the year for the IT sector.

Top cardiac surgeon Dr Naresh Trehan led the Indian delegation that also included president of the Public Health Foundation of India K Srinath Reddy. Paediatrician Dr Neelam Mohan, also a convener of AKA’s healthcare initiatives, was part of the committee. The Pakistani delegation was led by Dr Sania Nishtar, president Heartfile, and included Zeba Ayesha Sathar, country director of the Population Council of Pakistan, Yasmeen Sabeeh Qazi of Packard Foundation and Faiz Kidwai, chairman of Rotary Humanity Trust.

India, Pak Experts Give Healthcare a Shot in Arm
One of the neighbours’ biggest challenges is the low medical insurance cover, said Trehan. He also pointed out how paying for medical care was pushing many Indians below the poverty line. Most of the medical expense of an average Indian is paid from his own pocket, he said. According to an analysis, private expenditure on health in India is close to 78% compared to 53% in Sri Lanka and 61% in China. Only Pakistan is worse off with private expenditure being 82.5%.

Admitting that India’s private sector has done a lot better than Pakistan’s in providing medical care, Nishtar warned about the new common threat–non–communicable diseases. She said population explosion could increase the number of people suffering from NCDs and India and Pakistan will be in focus during the UN general assembly on NCDs in September.

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