Health for Seniors – A definitive opportunity in the decade ahead

Health for Seniors – A definitive opportunity in the decade ahead 

Hyderabad: Senior Care forum under the aegis of NATHEALTH – Healthcare Federation of India, an apex body representing the ecosystem of private healthcare sector in collaboration with ASLI, FICCI and MTaI launched a whitepaper on “Catalysing and Reforming Senior Care in India” in technical collaboration with PWC. Currently, India enjoys a young population dividend, in the next few decades the ageing population is set to grow to ~330 million individuals by 2050. The growing elderly population, increased life expectancy, improved affordability, shifting disease burden & changing family structures are driving the need for senior care both medical & non-medical. With increasing ageing population, there will be an increase in demand for care and resources. The paper highlighted that there is a need for a strong policy framework. Mechanisms for financing of care and an elder welfare ecosystem involving both in the public and private sector can help the Indian elders live a healthy and enriching life during their silver years.

Speaking at the launch, Dr. Vinod Kumar Paul, Hon’ble Member-Health, NITI Aayog said, “The care of the elderly is a very critical area. The issue of financial protection of seniors is a very important one and we must look at private insurance models that have worked in other countries. We must look at ways to incorporate senior care into our existing primary health systems. We must identify the correct way to channelize CSR funds to scale up elderly care. Another important factor is to consider the telehealth model to reach out to seniors across geographies. It is also important to include civil society organsations who work on ground as a part of the discussion.”

Shri R. Subrahmanyam, Secretary, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment said, “Senior care is one of the urgent public health priorities that we should collectively address as a nation. A public-private partnership will help us effectively address the problem and enable us to create a better eco-system for elder care. As our constructive next steps to elevate the state of elderly care in India, we should give adequate attention to five aspects which includes building industry standards, strengthening elderly insurance cover, forming elderly self-help groups and re-employment opportunities, integrating innovation into elderly ecosystem through startups, and encouraging private sector to invest in senior care through their CSR programs.”

According to Dr Harsh Mahajan, President NATHEALTH and Chief Radiologist, Mahajan Imaging, “There is a need to develop digital disruptions across mature senior welfare ecosystems to improve access & efficiency and promote independent ageing. The white paper on ‘Catalysing & Reforming senior care in India’ highlights 12 implementation focused initiatives that could help accelerate reforms, improve access and affordability of care and harness latent opportunities of the private sector with a focused holistic integrated approach.”

Brig Dr Arvind Lal, Chair- FICCI Swasth Bharat Task Force; Executive Chairman, Dr Lal Path Labs Ltd said, “While India’s economic position and healthcare ecosystem have significantly improved over the years, our elderly population is still highly vulnerable to both Communicable and Non-Communicable Diseases. In addition, they face numerous challenges ranging from economic security, accessibility to public services along with abuse and neglect from family and society. We must create a robust and inclusive senior welfare ecosystem that gives them a life with dignity in their golden years. It is high time that we introduce a dedicated ‘National Mission for Ageing and Senior Welfare’, with active participation of the Central and State Governments, industry and the civil society.” 

With an aim to provide the right support & impetus that could help transforming the Indian senior care landscape, the report which was launched today by four federations (ASLI, FICCI, MTaI and NATHEALTH) has highlighted recommendations that are focused around 6 moats: 

  • Regulations & Policy reforms – A single governing body & national mission for senior citizen welfare backed by a national portal for the elderly to place the power of choice in the hands of the consumer. A fair & participative regulatory framework to support development of private sector & provides the much necessary market stewardship
  • Financing of care – A mandatory/tax-incentivized health saving plan/scheme from early ages, private health insurance reforms to increase enrolment & provide comprehensive cover for all the aspects of senior care. Building in efficiency measures in financing & care delivery to ensure optimum utilization of public funds & infrastructure
  • Execution of Public Private Partnership model –Identifying areas of for PPP models & a robust framework for PPP could help boost private sector investment, augment public capacity while improving efficiency and facilitate care access to all senior citizens
  • Capacity building – Workforce & digital infrastructure capacity building to support a growing industry with skilled and trained manpower for provision of highest quality of care to all
  • Tax Subsidies – Tax impetus to providers & consumers of senior care services & products, the SCWF as a corpus for funding senior welfare & tax benefits to entrepreneurs & start-ups in the space to help development of the space
  • Active & Healthy ageing – WHO focus on healthy & active ageing & Government of India’s focus on ‘Ageing in Place’ could be supported by creating a home environment, community support system and a larger ecosystem focused on elder welfare, to help the elderly optimize opportunities for living a healthy and productive life while also reducing the cost of care burden

Mr. Pavan Choudary, Chairman MTaI, said, “Other than the general deterioration of the body, the physical challenge which the elderly face is that the course of the disease is often atypical, multi-pathology and may need poly therapy. On the economic side the rising healthcare and other costs and lowering interest rates is driving millions into old age poverty. Socially the usefulness of elders has gone down due to change in family dynamics and techno-commercial changes & social indifference towards the elderly is causing esteem issues, alienation and depression. This report is the first attempt to fully illuminate the plight of the elderly in India. It is not only a wakeup call but a blue print for Senior Care reform.”

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