Doctors and representatives of private healthcare institutions discussed provision of accessible and affordable healthcare while balancing a sustainable business model at the second Equitable Healthcare Access Consortium held at The Dhan Academy here on Saturday and Sunday.

Addressing mediapersons, a group of participants, including M.P. Vasimalai, Executive Director, DHAN Foundation, D.V.R. Seshadri, Professor at Indian School of Business and convenor of the Consortium, G.N. Rao, founder-Chairman of L.V. Prasad Eye Institute, R.D. Thulasiraj, Executive Director of Lions Aravind Institute of Community Ophthalmology (LAICO), and B.S. Srinath, Managing Trustee, Sri Shankara Cancer Foundation, highlighted various concerns.

They said 97% of Indians lacked proper healthcare due to the high costs of medicines and treatment. Dr. Rao said young medical practitioners did not get adequate exposure to equitable healthcare. Dr. Rao and Dr. Seshadri said only eye hospitals were able to penetrate into rural areas and provide secondary and tertiary care to the public. “The poor can also be affected by cancer, heart ailments and orthopaedic problems. The problem now is lack of ethical practice. Since many doctors are driven by targets, the public mistrust is high,” said Dr. Seshadri.

Mr. Vasimalai said organisations like Sri Shankara Cancer Foundation were effectively taking cancer care to villages. Combining treatment with community building would bring about inclusivity. Collaboration with trusted non-governmental organisations or local organisations was the key to achieve this feat, he said.

Speaking about poor access to secondary and tertiary healthcare in rural India, Dr. Srinath said, “Despite an improvement in connectivity, there is still a huge divide between urban and rural areas. Most villagers often avoided visits to doctors fearing high expenses.”

The doctors also highlighted the need for well-trained paramedical personnel.

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