Asian Independent – 22nd September, 2021
The Consulate General of India in Birmingham, in partnership with the Department for International Trade, Government of UK, University Hospitals Birmingham, India Inc, Birmingham City University, Infosys, Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce, Confederation of Indian Industry and several other organisations organized the India-UK Healthcare Conference 2021 at the Edgbaston Park Hotel, Birmingham on 21st September 2021. The Conference was preceded by a curtain raiser event the previous evening. Dignitaries like Prof Dr Balram Bhargava, Secretary, Department of Health Research and Director General of Indian Council for Medical Research, Deputy High Commissioner of India to UK, Mr Sujit Ghosh, The Lord Lieutenant of West Midlands Mr. John Crabtree, Vice Chancellor of Birmingham City University Prof. Philip Plowden, British Deputy High Commissioner Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, Mr. Andrew Fleming along with several others graced the occasion.
This year’s Healthcare Conference is especially important as the world has been suffering with the covid19 pandemic for the last eighteen months. India and UK, both have played important parts in combating the pandemic, the development of Oxford-Astra-Zeneca-Serum Institute of India vaccine demonstrates the success India-UK collaboration. The conference this year provided an important platform for discussions and exchange of ideas between health care practitioners, administrators, policy makers and industry players. It brought together several key stakeholders of both countries to share their experiences, deliberate on solutions, and explore ways & means to further increase the collaboration in the healthcare sector. It also showcased the successful projects where British organizations are operating in India and vice versa.
Healthcare has been identified as a priority sector for the India-UK relationship. This presents a unique opportunity to India and UK, as both have robust core strength areas in the sector to work together not only for the benefit the health systems of both countries but to enhance global health security and pandemic resilience. With technological advancements, Indian innovators and disruptors can take advantage of the British ecosystem to solve healthcare challenges and similarly British side can learn from the steps taken by India as it embarks on its journey to ensure health care for all through unique initiatives like Ayushman Bharat and National Digital Health Mission.
The Conference was held at the Edgbaston Park Hotel, it consisted of a Plenary Session with three Panel Discussions followed by seven simultaneous Breakout Sessions in the afternoon. The panel discussions on Future of Digital Health, Accelerating Innovations and Partnerships & Investment opportunities were moderated by Prof. Manoj Ladwa, CEO and Founder India Inc and Mr. Tim Jones, Chief Innovation Office, University Hospitals Birmingham. This session had some of esteemed speakers like the Lord Prior, Chairman of NHS England, UK, (Dr.) Prof Balram Bhargava, Secretary to the Government of India, Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare & Director- General, Indian Council of Medical Research India, Government of India, Deputy High Commissioner Mr. Sujit Ghosh, Rt Hon’ble Jacqui Smith, Chair of University Hospitals Birmingham, Professor Sudhesh Kumar, Dean of the Warwick Medical School and Director of the Institute of Digital Healthcare at University of Warwick, Mr. Madhukar Bose, Deputy Head of Healthcare Digital Health, Department for International Trade, Mr Roshan Shetty, Head of Insurance, Life Science and Healthcare, Infosys, UK, Mr. Jagtar Singh, Chair, NHS Coventry & Warwick Partnership, Dr. Praveen Gedam, Additional CEO, National Health Authority of India & Mission Director, National Digital Health Mission, Government of India, Dr. Naresh Trehan, Chairman and Managing Director, Medanta, India, Mr. Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. Dr. Sangita Reddy, Joint Managing Director, Apollo Hospitals Group, India, Mr. Varun Sood, Vice President, Invest India were among the other dignitaries who joined virtually. Wide arrays of topics like the Current pandemic crisis, scopes of collaboration in tele-medicine, digital Health, Challenges, Regulatory Framework, partnerships, importance of multilateral cooperation & global governance was covered. The panelists gave an overview of India UK Healthcare landscape & discussed synergies between India-UK in Healthcare for the future. They highlighted the emerging areas of healthcare development, where the UK has already made significant growth and where the potential is truly significant & yet untapped, they particularly mentioned what’s happening in India as a huge opportunity and UK should capitalize it.
Consul General Dr. Shashank Vikram said that Healthcare sector provides a huge opportunity for collaboration between India and UK. ‘We are hopeful that these deliberations will help provide concrete outcomes in ensuring robust cooperation in the area to ensure quality healthcare for people across India and UK’. He remarked that ‘Healthcare has become one of India’s largest sectors both in terms of revenue & employment. Recently, despite the pandemic hurdles, the Indian stock market has outperform showing the emergence of Aatma Nirbhar Bharat.
This was soon followed by seven Breakout Sessions which ran in parallel in seven different rooms. The sessions covered a wide spectrum of health sector including Covid-19 and strategies to combat future waves, Health Tech, Digital Health and AI, accessible health care for all, cooperation in Pharma sector& Life Sciences Sector including Vaccine development and training & mobility of Healthcare Professionals. There were two special sessions on contribution of medical professionals of Indian origin in the UK & India during pandemic & beyond and Holistic approach to healthcare. The sessions had both physical and virtual participation. Some very interesting and important observations were noted during the conference, like the ‘Collaborative & collective efforts are needed to respond effectively to the COVID19 pandemic’, ‘The economic effects of the pandemic which has aggravated the vulnerability of all age groups in the labour market facing higher risk of job losses and income generation’, ‘Emphasis on digital health technology which has been around far longer than recent mainstream adoption, the pandemic has helped pole-vault the biggest obstacle to digital adoption’. The sessions highlighted the importance of reinstating health care resources especially health care workers for current & future challenges for the nation and also across the globe including UK. Gave an excellent summary of help available to UK exporters, stressed how the modern Technology is fast changing the approach to Healthcare & how India – UK can collaborate using each other’s strength. The contributions of the strong diaspora Medical professionals in UK and the relevance of Yoga & Ayurveda in Mental & Physical wellbeing was also deliberated.
The conference was a big leap to promote further exchange between India and UK, of ideas, technologies and innovations in all the fields of healthcare be it administration of healthcare organizations, training of personnel or investment in medical and pharma industries. The Health Conference provided a platform for discussing opportunities for UK institutes to collaborate, partner or enter into academic tie-ups with Indian institutes to address the critical workforce challenges. Over 200 guests participated in the conference and fantastic topics were discussed for maximum mutual benefit for both economies.
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