Last year, Medical Excellence Japan (MEJ) – a public-private partnership to promote the international development of Japanese medical services -- approached the Indian government with a proposal to set up Medical Excellence India (MEI) that would aim to develop better healthcare ecosystem by multi-sectoral collaboration among the industry, academia and medical institutes.
After enough deliberation by many Indian stakeholders, including the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), NITI Aayog, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and healthcare providers, the first joint workshop by the two countries was organised in Delhi on March 14, under the theme 'Approach to improving acute medicine in India through medical DX (diagnosis).'
Anna Roy, Senior Adviser, NITI Aayog, informed that MEJ had approached India with a proposal last year and all the stakeholders have met to discuss and find the way forward for a more accessible healthcare. "This workshop is the initial step to deep dive into ideas and think of ways for implementing improved healthcare solutions with a knowledge sharing by Japan to provide better care to patients," said Roy.
Since 2011, MEJ has been offering medical services to countries like Thailand, Laos, Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines and so on.
Dr Ashok Kumar Chawla, Adviser (Japan), MEA, suggested, "We will have to study MEJ a little bit more to see how best and in what form it will fit into our system. We will definitely do the handholding. There is a huge gap between the number of patients attended per day by Indian and Japanese doctors. There could be a possibility that Japanese doctors come and work with Indian doctors and get some exposure, which they may not get easily in Japan."
One of the proposals that came during the workshop was on Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) in Indian healthcare. Japan already has an AAM programme, and the nation plans to launch the commercial operations around expansion of medicine and package delivery by 2025, along with air ambulances, and also launch the organ transportation services by 2030. Similarly, India is also taking steps to bring the global drone hub by 2030. In this regard, pilot projects are being conducted in various states to transport critical medical items.
Niharika Kolte Alekar, founder and CEO, Volar Alta, a drone tech solutions provider company, pointed out at the workshop, "For any disruptive technology to be integrated into the mainstream of transporting items, a lot of things need to fall in place – from technology readiness to regulatory approvals to willingness of the healthcare systems – to actually implement it in their day-to-day operations."
She proposed tech collaborations, data collection and creating a central repository around that and financing the pilot projects, along with collaborations among academic institutions, regulatory authorities, startups and healthcare systems to conduct a needs’ assessment.
Throwing more light on MEJ, Chiaki Miyoshi, executive director, MEJ Forum, notified that MEJ builds overseas medical bases, fosters the acceptance of medical travellers and overseas development of human resource, and increases public recognition of Japan’s medical services.
"We also have joint challenges initiatives, international collaboration on regulations and clinical trials, collaborations with the industries for the best benefit as well as the adoption and sharing of new solutions,” he mentioned while speaking at the workshop.
Other suggestions and recommendations for MEI included improving the responses of ambulance systems, development of national emergency care grid, national Emergency Department Information System (EDIS), data innovation ecosystem for infectious diseases and hub for datascience and innovations, among others.
Dr VK Paul, member (health), NITI Aayog, also present at the workshop, concluded that the consultations on MEI are going on among all the relevant stakeholders, and it is expected that "MEJ and MEI will be able to work together for a progressive future of both India and Japan."
On the sidelines of the workshop, India-Japan Public-Private Conference on Healthcare was also organised by the Office of Healthcare Policy, Cabinet Secretariat, Government of Japan, where eight Japanese companies presented their offerings to improve the healthcare infrastructure in India.