Priorities Of 2022 For Healthcare Sector

Reaching the primary vaccination goals that we have set for ourselves is an urgent priority in 2022, especially as almost 40 per cent of the eligible recipients have still not taken the second dose.

The last two years were arguably the most testing times that the healthcare sector has ever faced. Even as we are now gearing up to face the onslaught of the third wave, it is also relevant to reflect on the learnings from the first two and weave those into the plans for the year ahead.

In the last year, we saw a significant partnership between the government and the healthcare sector in the country’s fight against the pandemic and the very positive results of this engagement were visible on the ground. Also, while hospitals took a lead in mounting an agile response to the virus, all other constituents of the sector viz, pharma, medtech as well as insurance companies collaborated closely in that process. Hopefully, these trends of cooperation among all stakeholders would sustain in the years ahead and strengthen our ability to deal with similar situations in future should one occur again.

At a more operating level, we should hasten our inoculation drive, encourage further digital adoption, focus on mental health as a key area and continue the momentum in investing in healthcare infrastructure.

Unvaccinated pools of population could be breeding grounds of mutants and some of them could have features that affect inoculated people too. Therefore, reaching the primary vaccination goals that we have set for ourselves is an urgent priority in 2022, especially as almost 40 per cent of the eligible recipients have still not taken the second dose. In the meanwhile, there might be some higher risk groups that could benefit from a booster. Given the production capacities that are coming into stream and many more vaccines getting ready for use, there is unlikely to be a supply constraint for all these needs. 

While the restrictions of lockdowns as well as concerns related to travel and logistics gave a fillip to the adoption of digital routes to accessing care – whether in the form of tele-consults or remote monitoring, far more needs to get done in this space. The potential for digital innovations in healthcare is immense and we should ensure that efforts in this direction are encouraged. The start-ups ecosystem is an appropriate route to try out ideas for both adoption as well as scalability. 

The pandemic also brought a sharp focus on mental health issues that in the past often did not receive the attention it deserved. Lack of social interactions or other opportunities to engage or de-stress, brought about by the need to use online options to work or study, further exacerbated the challenges around mental health. Now that there is significant awareness and a realisation that it is as important, if not more, as physical health, the sector should channelize efforts to promote emotional wellbeing, educate on potential concerns and create options for people to access counsel when required. Corporates at large, as employers, too have a significant role to play in taking this forward.

Finally, COVID also brought the shortcomings in our healthcare infrastructure in much sharper focus than ever before and perhaps the silver lining, if one can call it that, is the quick actions by the Governments at the Centre and States to direct much needed investments into correcting that. Hopefully, the momentum and intent would sustain and we would fast track our journey to reach a spend of at least 3 per cent of the GDP by the end of this decade, with much of that going towards creation of infrastructure as well as in primary and preventive care.

While some of these priorities involve a medium term action agenda, it would be creditable if we make even a good beginning in 2022. As the saying goes, 'a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.'

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2022 healthcare sector Vaccination Goals


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