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16.05.12

Plans for UK-India health collaboration

The UK and India can work together to improve primary healthcare in both countries, according to a new report.

India plans to achieve universal health coverage, and health has been identified by the India-UK CEO Forum, established by the British and Indian prime ministers in 2010, as a priority area for collaboration.

In their paper published at bmj.com, Mala Rao, Professor of International Health at the University of East London, and David Mant, Professor of General Practice at Oxford University, say the two countries could work more closely on collaborative training in primary care across health disciplines; enhancing the status of primary healthcare in India using the experience of the UK’s Medical and Nursing Councils and the Royal College of General Practitioners; and developing affordable medical technologies drawing on India’s strength in technological innovation and the UK in technological assessment and evaluation.

They also recommend India learn from the way the NHS commissioning system works with the private sector, and from its quality standards and governance arrangements for primary care. Finally, they suggest collaborative research and development of primary healthcare models, staffing solutions and technologies.

In an accompanying editorial, Professor Lalit Dandona, Director of the Wellcome Trust Capacity Building Programme at the Public Health Foundation of India, and Professor Jagdish Prasad, Director General of Health Services at the Government of India, say a UK-India partnership “offers promise if it connects with existing efforts and stakeholders” but say those involved in implementing the proposed activities must keep several issues in mind.

For example, the need to complement existing efforts and to assess the benefits of these activities to society, the need to engage the medical and academic communities as well as private providers and policy makers, and the need to explore commercial opportunities wisely “so that commercial interests do not outweigh the partnership’s goal of working for the public good”.

Finally, they say the partnership has to be one of equality: “The Indian and UK parties will have different, probably complementary, skills to offer to the partnership, which if harnessed with mutual respect would have the best chance of successful outcomes.”

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