PM calls for start-up ideas for innovative, cheaper medical devices

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invited startup ideas for medical devices that would be innovative and cheaper in order to address the issues concerning the healthcare sector.

In an address to mark 75 years of cancer treatment by Tata Memorial Hospital, Modi invited start-ups to focus on research for innovative medical devices and use technology to make healthcare more affordable.

''India should manufacture its own medical devices to bring down the cost. Recently, the government reduced cost of stents by 85 per cent,'' Modi said. ''The International Agency for Research on Cancer says in the next 30 years the number of cancer cases will double. It is necessary to bring all hospitals on one platform to treat cancer patients through latest technology.''

Addressing oncologists at Tata Memorial Hospital through a live video conference in Delhi, the prime minister said a new National Cancer Institute will be set up in Haryana.

Dr Rajan Badwe, director of Tata Memorial Centre, the hospital will focus on research in cancer and more affordable treatment options.

Modi said at least a million new cancer cases are diagnosed in India every year, of which 6.5 lakh patients die. With the high cost of cancer treatment, the government is keen on technological progress to evolve cheaper methods of treatment.

He said the ministry of health and family welfare is planning to start four cancer hospitals in Chandigarh, Guwahati, Varanasi and Visakhapatnam. ''We are trying to bring cancer care within the reach of poor patients. The Digital Nerve Centre is an initiative in that direction,'' the PM said.

The nerve centre connects four cancer hospitals in India and helps doctors discuss complex cases via video conferencing. Plans are under way to start the digital nerve centre in 108 cancer hospitals under the National Cancer Grid. The move will save patients, specially from Northeast and Bengal, the long trip to Mumbai to seek expert opinion.

''Under the national health policy we are addressing several diseases. Our government wants a holistic approach,'' Modi said, hinting towards greater involvement of Ayush and homeopathy in healthcare system in conditions where Ayurveda or yoga can be used to treat side-effects caused by allopathic drugs.

On Thursday, the hospital put up its coffee table books for sale at Rs4,000. The book states how Dorabji Tata decided to start the hospital in 1931, after his wife Meherbai Tata told him there is need for lakhs of Indian patients to get affordable cancer care.

She had gone to Memorial Hospital, USA, for leukemia treatment and considered herself lucky to have resources. Following her death, in 1932 Dorabji decided to give away Rs1 crore to set up Dorabji Tata Trust for philanthropy work. The Lady Tata Memorial Trust was formed, costing Rs25 lakh, to conduct research in diseases.

Sir Clifford Manshardt, an American missionary, drew up a plan of Rs20 lakh to build the cancer hospital and buy equipment. Finally in 1941, costing Rs30 lakh, the Tata Memorial Hospital was completed. Doctors would be sent abroad for training to Royal College of Surgeons, and to American, European institutes.

The book shares anecdotes of how Memorial Hospital, New York, where Meherbai was treated, was consulted for training Indian doctors in cancer and Tata hospital designed itself to match standards of the New York hospital.

Ratan Tata, in his welcome address, thanked the prime minister for his support, cooperation and vision towards affordable healthcare and cancer research.