Saturday January 20, 2018

India’s Generics Project can bring down Medicine Costs not only in the country but also Globally: WHO India head

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Medicines, Pixabay
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– by Rupesh Dutta

New Delhi, May 24, 2017: As the government gears up to push generic medicines to bring down costs for patients, World Health Organisation (WHO) representative in India Henk Bekedam has stated that the move, if successfully implemented, will not only reduce the cost of medicines within the country but also globally.

The 59-year old global health leader — who previously served in a similar capacity in Egypt — said that there were several “pre-qualified” generic medicine companies in India producing quality medicines.

“Make in India is important as India will be able to produce a greater quantity of good quality generic medicines, which will bring down the cost of medicines globally and more people in India and globally will be able to afford quality medicines,” Bekedam, who assumed his present job in November 2015, told IANS in an interview.

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Asked whether the foreign pharmaceutical companies, which are major suppliers of branded medicines, will be affected if India steps into the picture, Bekedam said that India is already the world’s pharmacy, exporting quality generic medicines and vaccines.

“And by bringing down the cost of normal medicines globally they will be accessible to every one,” he maintained.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said on April 17 the government will bring legislation mandating doctors to prescribe generic medicines which are cheaper than their equivalent branded drugs.

Generic medicines are the cheaper versions of branded drugs and come into the market after the patent period of the branded medicines expires. Manufacturers then replicate the medicines and come up with the cheaper versions. Since generic drugs do not involve a repeat of the extensive clinical trials to prove their safety and efficacy, it costs less to develop them.

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According to Bekedam, out-of-pocket expenditure on medicines and other treatments by patients was a burning issue that had affected India’s health system.

Stating that generic medicines can help in increasing their accessibility, Bekedam said that currently in India, two-thirds of people’s medical expenditure comes from their own pockets, which leads to hesitation among them to go for surgery and other treatment.

In such a situation, generic medicines can provide relief to the patients.

“If we compare India with other countries, the government’s contribution to health is just over one per cent of the GDP which is low by international standards. It results in people spending out of their pockets. Two-third of all health expenditure comes from people’s own pockets. It also leads to hesitation among people to seek surgeries and other treatments,” said Bekedam.

He also urged a hike in India’s health budget at a time other countries such as China, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh allocate at least three per cent of their GDP dedicated to the sector.

The Union budget allocated Rs 47,352.51 crore for health in fiscal 2017-18, against Rs 37,061.55 crore in 2016-17.

“India is a fascinating country and has similarity with other Asian countries and in terms of economic growth. When there is economic growth then there is more room for investment in health. I can see the potential in India that it can now put more money in terms of health and economic growth,” said Bekedam.

Noting that 60 million Indians are in poverty due to paying health bills, he said: “India should invest more in health.”

Having closely monitored India’s health sector for almost two years, Bekedam said such investment will help the country become less vulnerable in terms of health calamities. Investing in a surveillance system that can detect and respond to diseases is crucial.

Citing the example of three West African countries affected by Ebola, he said: “These countries lost 12 percent of their GDP. Such countries are not able to detect the disease because of which they have to suffer the loss.” (IANS)

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  • Vartika Das

    This is a great step! Keep up with the Vaccination needs MyVac is also helping Indian crowd to stay alert about vaccination.

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All You Need To Know About India’s Strategic Chabahar Port

The Chabahar Port is a seaport in Chabahar, which is on the Gulf of Oman, near Iran-Pakistan border.

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Chabahar Port is of great international significance in terms of trade, especially for India. Wikimedia Commons
Chabahar Port is of great international significance in terms of trade, especially for India. Wikimedia Commons

By Ruchika Verma

  • The Chabahar Port is of great strategic importance for India
  • It is in Iran and is being built and operated by India
  • This port will increase India’s trade with Central Asia and Europe

The Chabahar Port is a seaport in Chabahar, which is on the Gulf of Oman, near Iran-Pakistan border. Chabahar is the trans-shipment and logistics hub for the Makran Coast and Baluchistan province of Iran.

Chabahar Port is built and operated by India. Wikimedia Commons
Chabahar Port is built and operated by India. Wikimedia Commons

The tension between India and Pakistan is nothing new. There are several instances where both the countries have tried to obstruct each other’s political or economic agendas. This obstruction, along with other strategic reasons, resulted in the India and Iran’s deal on the Chabahar Port, which is crucial because of several reasons.

Here are few things about it you may not have known before :

  • Under the Trilateral Transit and Transport Agreement of 2016, the Chabahar port is the gateway to the Transport Corridor between India, Iran and Afghanistan, which allows multi-modal goods’ and passengers’ transport.

Also Read: India and Iran sign agreement to develop Chabahar Port

  • The agreement also states that India will develop and operate two berths in the first phase of the port. The contract is for 10 years and extendable. This time period excludes the first two years as they will be used for construction.
Chabahar Port will make India's trade with Afghanistan easier. Wikimedia Commons
Chabahar Port will make India’s trade with Afghanistan easier. Wikimedia Commons
  • The Chabahar Port’s first phase, which was developed by India, and inaugurated by Iran on 4th December 2017, is of great strategic importance as it makes it easier for India to conduct trade with Central Asia and Europe.
  • Iran’s Chabahar port is also important for India’s trade because of Pakistan’s reluctance in allowing India to send goods to Iran and Afghanistan through its land territory.

Also Read: Gwadar Port: China Turning Pakistan Port Into Regional Giant 

  • The development of Chabahar Port will increase the momentum of the International North-South Transport Corridor whose signatories include India, Afghanistan and Russia. Iran is the key gateway in this project. It will improve India’s trade with Central Asia as well as Europe.
    The Chabahar Port has also reduced Afghanistan’s dependence on the transit road, which went through Karachi. Now, trade can be conducted via Chabahar Port too. Islamabad has accused India of trying to use this development as a means to destabilise Pakistan.

    The Chabar Port is the said to be the counter to the Gwadar Port. Wikimedia Commons
    The Chabar Port is the said to be the counter to the Gwadar Port. Wikimedia Commons
  • The Chabahar Port also acts as a counter to the barely 100 km away, Gwadar port in Pakistan, which is developed by China. However, Iran has defended that Chabahar is not a rival to Gwadar and Pakistan is invited to join in its development.
  • In October 2017, India sent its first shipment of wheat to through Chabahar to Afghanistan, in order to test the viability of the route.
  • India will also construct a 900-km Chabahar-Zahedan-hajigak railway line that will connect Port of Chabahar to Hajigak in Afghanistan. It will also connect Mashad in the north, providing access to Turkmenistan as well as northern Afghanistan.This project is worth $1.6 billion.

    India will supply $400 million worth of steel rails to Tehrain. Wikimedia Commons
    India will supply $400 million worth of steel rails to Tehran. Wikimedia Commons
  • It is being said that India will supply $400 million of steel rails to Tehran. There are also possibilities of setting up a fertilizer plant through a joint venture with the Iranian government.