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India needs to focus a lot more on healthcare research: Samir Somaiya

In an interview with EThealthworld,Samir Somaiya, Chairman, K J Somaiya Medical Trust, Mumbai, talks about their journey and vision to provide affordable healthcare to all. Edited excerpts:

How do you find the healthcare scenario in India?

The healthcare scenario in India is of two extremes. On one hand we are outstanding and amongst the best in the world in terms of expertise, capability and competence in delivery of care but on the other hand if you look at the population, accessibility and affordability of care, there you will find a gap because the number of doctors and then their distribution between urban and rural India is an issue. We need to create much more capacity.

We have superb competence in the treatment of medical conditions but we need much more quality and penetration elsewhere. On the research side I think India needs to do a lot more in terms of creating healthcare research whether it is in terms of healthcare devices, treatments or in medicines.

Tell us about the growth of Somaiya Institute.

This institution was founded in 1991 by my grandfather late Padma Bhushan Karamshibhai Jethabhai (K. J.) Somaiya and now we have completed about 25 years in the health sector. The dream was to create a place where people can find cures for their ailment including people who can afford and those who cannot afford.

The first 25 years were largely spent in dealing with the service to those who cannot afford and that has been a wonderful journey. We have about a thousand OPD patients in our hospital daily. Recently, we have also created a section of cardiac care, orthopaedics and a world class emergency care.

Currently, the hospital has two wings which are the teaching and superspecialty wing. In the teaching hospital there is no charge for medical consultation and the stay and charges in a ward are 80-100 rupees per day which includes food. We are trying to be at a price point which is lower than our peers and also be the best care providers at the same time.

We dream of creating this place as a referral place for Asia. We have already planned for a new outpatient centre and an oncology centre working with the Asian Cancer Institute. We want to provide world class care and education that would be at the same time remembering our founder and grandfather's vision of creating a place that would be of service to all who come here for care.

What are the upcoming initiatives that you are working on?

We want to create a seamless system where the knowledge goes back and forth. Recently we have created a three acre ayurvedic garden which has 100 varieties of plants and 6000 of them.

We are now talking to our botany department to try and understand what plants are grown. You can then start doing joint research between what you are getting in these and see how the care works. You can merge this in future and see how you can bring cell lines in it and see synthesis of molecules to see if the cell lines are working. So I think there is a lot of work and imagination has to come to the fore.

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