UK keen to strengthen healthcare partnership with Tamil Nadu

From left: N.K. Ranganath, Past Chairman, CII Tamil Nadu; Shobana Kamineni, Chairperson, CII National Committee on Public Health; Kenneth Clarke, British Cabinet Minister and the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy; and Mike Nithavrianakis, British Deputy High Commissioner in Chennai, at a conference on Indo-UK Collaboration in Healthcare, organised by the CII, in Chennai on Thursday —Photo : Bijoy Ghosh  

Kenneth Clarke, the British Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy, on Thursday hailed the primary healthcare system in Tamil Nadu and said Britain was willing to forge links in all areas of healthcare with India for mutual benefit.

Earlier in the day, he met Health Minister K.C. Veeramani and expressed UK’s desire to demonstrate its commitment to build a stronger, wider and deeper partnership with the State in healthcare.

Leading a 26-member health business delegation to the city that was ready to offer to India, from design and operating a hospital to creating digital records or skill in operating state-of-the-art equipment, he said: “I would like to see a vibrant and growing Indo-UK healthcare partnership as a way of opening up a whole range of business partnerships with India.”

Addressing the members of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), he described India as a global giant and an emerging economy and said India and UK faced similar challenges in delivering high quality and low cost healthcare to the widest section of population. He also mentioned that about a quarter of doctors in the UK were Indian or of Indian origin and many doctors in India had trained or worked in the UK.

“Of all the sectors where India and the UK can work together for mutual benefit, healthcare is one of the strongest because of this common ground in a sector that is vital to our growth,” he said.

Talking on the subject ‘Collaboration in healthcare’ he said: “The Indian private sector is renowned for offering world-class healthcare in India’s big cities. You are now keen to provide universal and affordable access to that same quality of service to India’s emerging towns and villages. You are also keen to strengthen your public healthcare infrastructure. The UK offers wide access to world-class healthcare and owes much of that success to a vibrant public and private sector.”

In his special address, British Deputy High Commissioner in Chennai, Mike Nithavrianakis, said there was enormous potential for Tamil Nadu and the UK to work together in healthcare. The Indo-British Healthcare Initiative, established a year back, would host an Indo-UK Oncology Summit in Chennai by September.

Chairperson of CII National Committee on Public Health, Shobana Kamineni, said the CII was working to classify healthcare as an industry, as this status would ensure the tax benefits and rates for funding for hospitals that were urgently needed for the private sector to extend services to a wider population.

“Healthcare is now part of India’s skills agenda. What we would welcome from the UK is the innovation that the UK is renowned for. The world owes the UK several innovations, such as the MRI and we would welcome low-cost innovative solutions from the UK,” she said.

Past Chairman of CII-Tamil Nadu, N.K. Ranganath, said the market of healthcare in India was huge, especially in tier-II and tier-III cities. He quoted in the last five years, private equity fund investments in health and life sciences had touched $2 billion.