Session Report

Plenary IV: India as a Global Heath & Wellness hub

Chair

  • Mr M J Akbar, Minister of State for External Affairs, Government of India

Co-Chair

  • Ms Anupriya Patel, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Government of India

Special Guest

  • Datuk Seri Dr. S. Subramaniam, Minister of Health, Malaysia

Session Coordinator

  • Mr Ajit Gupte, Joint Secretary (DPA), Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India

Panelists

  • Dr Y P Bhatia, Astron Hospital & Health Consultant Pvt. Ltd  
  • Dr Bharat Barai, Medical Director, Cancer InstituteMethodist Hospitals, Indiana
  • Dr C G Gangadharan, Director, M S Ramaiah Indic Centre for Ayurveda & Integrative Medicine, Bengaluru
  • Dr Deepti Gupta, Homeopathic Physician
  • Dr Harsh Mahajan, Radiologist & Managing Director, Mahajan Imaging
  • Dr Acharya Shunya Pratichi Mathur, President, California Association of Ayurveda Medicine
  • Dr Azad Moopen, Chairman & MD, Aster DM Health Care
  • Datuk Dr Achaiah Kumar Rao Obstetrician and Gynaecologist (MBBS, MOG) 

The Context

The plenary session focused on redefining holistic healthcare in India and comprehending the role of AYUSH and positioning India an alternative healthcare destination. The session focussed on framing specialised campaigns like the Incredible India! by engaging overseas Indian medical practitioners to share their expertise and technology, and develop a suitable IPR strategy in the pharma sector, amongst others. 

The session trained attention on:

  • Re-strategising the role of AYUSH among the Diaspora
  • Increased focus on health and wellness; diet and nutritional supplements
  • Certification of Yoga trainers abroad
  • IPR & patent strategy for the healthcare sector
  • Facilitating e-visas /visa-on-arrival for medical tourism

Key Recommendations & Action Taken

A session on the theme ‘India as a Global Health and Wellness Hubwas organised in New Delhi on May 26, 2016 attended by 14 domain experts from the Diaspora, stakeholders and policy makers who discussed topics ranging from holistic healthcare, certification of medical tourism, and connectivity to governance.

Chairperson, Gen. (Retd) V K Singh, Minister of State for External Affairs, Government of India, highlighted the significance of holistic healthcare and said that yoga and ayurveda are the cornerstones of holistic healing in India. He underlined the need for cost effective education in medicine.

The panel identified specific measures to be taken by Government of India and the Diaspora to popularise India as a holistic healthcare destination. Recommendations of the panel were forwarded by the ministry to other Cabinet ministers for consideration. Several inter-ministerial meetings were held to discuss the implementation.

Mr Ajit Gupte, Joint Secretary (DPA), Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, in his presentation based on the recommendations of the expert panel, stated that AYUSH should be developed and marketed in a systematic manner as an alternative treatment mode. To facilitate this, the Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of AYUSH should initial government-to-government agreements, set up AYUSH cells in Indian missions, sign MoUs for collaborating in traditional system of medicines and constitute chairs for ayurveda in foreign universities.

It was also recommended that the Ministry of Health and Ministry of AYUSH should coordinate with the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India to accredit specific hospitals and disseminate the information through digital communication tools, including dedicated websites.

In the effort to make traditional system of medicines more evidence-based, clinical research on the benefits of yoga and ayurveda should be undertaken and encouraged.

The immense scope for promoting India as a ‘wellness destination’ should be leveraged by the Ministry of Tourism by developing specific packages and encouraging hotels to provide facilities for yoga and holistic healthcare.

It was also suggested that ayurveda products need to be standardised and labelled; and the QCI should identify qualified yoga teachers and build a database. So also, Ministry of AYUSH should aim at creating international degrees in ayurveda and yoga and enable foreign students to enrol and the ministry should nominate itself as the apex authority to recognise degrees in ayurveda awarded by foreign universities. 

In this regard, it was noted that NABH accreditation was conferred on 16 Ayurveda and 1 Siddha hospital as well as the fact that the QCI has been engaged in developing accreditation standards for AYUSH Hospitals and guidelines for Panchkarma, and the tasks were to be completed soon. The QCI has already certified 799 Yoga professionals and the target was to certify 1,000 Yoga experts by March 2017. Treatment protocols in Homeopathy and Ayurveda were also being developed.

Another effort has been for setting up of dedicated AYUSH wings in prominent, modern hospitals for which AYUSH would lend technical support. It was noted that Medanta Hospital already operates a Centre of Integrated Medicine; Apollo Hospitals is using homeopathy and yoga in all its hospitals and also set up Life Wellness Centres other than launching a pilot project on ayurveda research.

The export of AYUSH drugs as food or herbal supplements has been increasing steadily with total Indian exports of ayurvedic and other medicines reaching $259 million in 2015-16.

Department of Commerce & FICCI had organised “Advantage Healthcare India” during October 3-5, 2016 in Greater Noida.  Over 50 countries had participated in the event, which is now to be held annually.  

On the activities to promote AYUSH, it was noted that the AYUSH Ministry organised the 7th World Ayurveda Congress during November 30 and December 1, 2016 in Kolkata in which experts from India and overseas discussed regulatory provisions for market access for AYUSH products overseas. The Ministry of AYUSH, in collaboration with Pharmexcil is bringing out a “Market Access Handbook for AYUSH products in USA, ASEAN, SAARC, Europe and China”. To promote India-made herbal and ayurvedic products, the 1st International Aarogya Fair is scheduled to be held in New Delhi in October 2017 in collaboration with the Ministry of Commerce in which about 300 foreign buyers are expected to participate.

Plenary and Q&A

“India will be the next global healthcare destination as it is uniquely positioned as a hub of health and wellness”, Union Minister of State for External Affairs, Government of India, Mr M J Akbar said. Mr Akbar also noted that India’s pharmaceutical companies were in the forefront of “churning out low-cost medicines”.

Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, Ms Anupriya Patel also predicted that “India will become a global wellness destination”. “The need of the hour is to increase our credibility and ensure that our costs are kept low,” she said.

Special Guest on the occasion Datuk Seri Dr S Subramaniam, Minister of Health, Malaysia, said his country had amalgamated traditional medicine into the overall healthcare system. Noting that Malaysia had signed an MoU with the Indian government on promoting traditional Indian medicine, he said, “Indian traditional medicine is being gradually introduced into the Malaysian system.”

India has huge potential to be positioned as a holistic healthcare destination, especially to the Diaspora. The potential is huge, and there is enough scope for it to be leveraged even more, Dr Azad Moopen, Chairman & MD, Aster DM Health Care, UAE said.

KEY RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE PLENARY SESSION

Following were the key recommendations made during the course of YPBD 2017 & PBD 2017 deliberations which have been organised under different sectors and areas:

Healthcare & Wellness

  • Position India as the next global healthcare and wellness destination
  • AYUSH should be developed and marketed in a systematic manner as an alternative treatment mode. To facilitate this, the Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of AYUSH should initiate government-to-government agreements, set up AYUSH cells in Indian missions, sign MoUs for collaborating in traditional system of medicines and constitute chairs for ayurveda in foreign universities
  • The Ministry of Health and Ministry of AYUSH should coordinate with the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India to accredit specific hospitals and disseminate the information through digital communication tools, including dedicated websites
  • Make traditional system of medicines more evidence-based, and clinical research on the benefits of yoga and ayurveda should be undertaken and encouraged
  • The immense scope for promoting India as a ‘wellness destination’ should be leveraged by the Ministry of Tourism by developing specific packages and encouraging hotels to provide facilities for yoga and holistic healthcare
  • Ayurveda products need to be standardised and labelled; and the QCI should identify qualified yoga teachers and build a database
  • Ministry of AYUSH should aim at creating international degrees in ayurveda and yoga and enable foreign students to enrol and the ministry should nominate itself as the apex authority to recognise degrees in ayurveda awarded by foreign universities

 

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