Initiating the discussion on the subject of Public Health and Biotechnology, Dr. D. Prabhakaran emphasized the need to start with working with collated data, for the purpose, from the location and find solutions that are unique to that area.
Keynote Address: Dr. D Prabhakaran
Moderator: Dr. V.K Singh
• Dr. Jaanus Pikani
• Dr. Pranav Gupta
• Dr. Sanjiv Kumar
• Maj Gen Jagtar Singh
Citing the example of global data about Diabetes, Dr. Prabhakaran brought to the notice of the audience that what is relevant to a specific area may not be applicable elsewhere, hence not very usable for health service providers in that region.
This is very important and relevant as biotechnology can be best put to use with good quality data for a specific region and disease. “We need to understand the mechanism of the disease. Innovations are needed in the management of acute illness. You, also, need data to apply biotechnology at its best and develop guidelines. Especially for contagious diseases, we need to keep track of various demographic realities on ground through good quality data that should be available to medical experts, without any corruption in the data,” said Dr. Prabhakaran.
He concluded his thoughts on the problems with suggestions that what is required is a simple device available at the location and operational without the need of any complex operations. We need to develop such devices for monitoring of communicable devices that can be used for self monitoring, patient management in hospitals and screening.
In contrast to the scenario above, Maj Gen Jagtar Singh, an expert in the field of medicine with our armed forces sketched a very different scenario and raised very relevant points.
“Outbreaks are a huge threat in the army as we have a large body of human beings living together. For this we have a large army of efficient doctors and medical staff to contain such outbreaks”, he explained.
He continued his thoughts on the same and said, “The second challenge is harsh ground realities as our soldiers work in extreme conditions. To treat them at these extreme conditions, the Indian army has done some specific research that has been accepted all over the world and not just with our soldiers.
“In the field of acclimatization, we are working with innovative approaches to cut down the acclimatization period and counting on such platforms as this to understand our unique problems and extend their service to find acceptable solutions,” concluded Maj Gen Jagtar Singh.
Dr. Jaanus Pikani has been an active member of the team that orchestrated transition of the Estonian health care from the Soviet type system to the most cost-efficient health care system globally recognized by the World Bank. Dr. Pikani was among the initiators and architects of the Estonian Genome Project, a globally unique population based health and genome databank of 50,000 participants or 5% of Estonian population, as of now.
Highlighting this as a new yardstick of providing public health, he shared that the Genome Project is now supported by various European states and in fact has reached as far as Vietnam and around. European countries and the World Bank have been in support of the project and eagerly back the project with good intentions.
Dr. Pikani feels that what they have achieved may be small in number especially when compared to India, but the same can be replicated with faith and dependence on technology and innovations.
Highlighting the efforts and intentions of the Government of India, Dr. Sanjiv Kumar, Director of the International Institute of Healthcare Management (IIHMR) shared his excitement regarding the positive steps of the government. “I am excited about the shape of things to come in the near future with acceptance and adaptation of innovations and new technology.”
In fact, he took a very encouraging approach and said, “Technology is available in your pocket for your good health. Starting with your smartphone, by which you can count the steps you take and the calories that you burn in a day, innovation hence has already become part of our lives and us our using technology of today with the very innovative approach and amazing outcomes.”
“Even the shortage of doctors or specialists is taken care of by telemedicine or long distance consultation. This is not in the future, but is, in fact, happening with the best of the doctors and specialists being consulted by clinics and medical facilities from all over the country – some as newly-formed private establishments or many more backed by the government to maximize the utilization of doctors and specialists who are in terrible shortage.”
All the panelists unanimously voiced their positivity about the fact that the health and medical field in India has been most encouraging in embracing innovations and new technology with amazing results.
Dr Karthik Anantharaman
“Traditionally developing medical devices is very capital intensive with years of R&D that adds to the cost and makes it very unviable for the product to be of any commercial viability. The best way forward is to produce products that are of need by the doctors and not indulge in ambitious research programs that can take as long as 4-5 years of development time and just the rearch can cost a couple of million of dollars.”
“Life cycle of a diagnostic device is not predictable as some competition may arrive in the market within six months of its launch, with additional facilities, extra benefits and probably at a cheaper cost. And there are other factors that can contribute to failure of the product despite it being very innovative and technically superior. For this you need Curators for startups or need big corporate to invest in service and maintenance for new innovative products.”
M.V. Amaresh Kumar
“Cost of innovation is always high as it involves immense research and investment in resources with no guarantee of market share. Government establishments like the Andhra Metric Zone and Abdul Kalam institute have come to the rescue of such innovators who need hand-holding by someone for making new products commercially viable and relieving the inventor of such mental burden. Only such marriage between innovators and non-profit establishments can ensure innovations to be introduced at reasonable price – not necessarily at a cheap rate, but affordable.”
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By Vigyan Arya