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Need for combining medical, scientific and technological communities for healthcare: Minister of Science and Technology

In an official press statement, the Minister for Science & Technology, Environment, Forests and Climate Change and Earth Sciences Dr Harsh Vardhan said that a combination of advancements in the technological, scientific and medical communities should be institutionalised all over the country to improve the efficiency and quality of healthcare services.

The Ministry launched four major projects in the Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology in Thiruvananthapuram. Dr Harsh Vardhan said that institutions like Sree Chitra working in the healthcare sector should fall in line with the goals of Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi’s “Make in India for Healthy India” initiative; he added that there is a growing need for import substitution, particularly in the healthcare sector in the country.

Dr Harsh Vardhan approved the construction of the Health and Safety block (Swasthya Suraksha) under the Prime Minister’s Healthcare Plan (Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana) at the Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences campus, and the development of the Combinational Devices Block and Regional Technical Resource Centre for Health Technology Assessment; he also inaugurated its data centre.

According to the Ministry’s press release, Dr Harsh Vardhan stated some of the technologies that require immediate attention are low-cost diagnostic machines such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT), cardiac catheterisation laboratories and digital subtraction angiography machines; apart from that, research should focus on the development of artificial implants, bionic organs and state-of-the-art rehabilitation technologies.

The Minister said that improvement in research and clinical trials in regenerative medicine, tissue engineering, stem cell engineering and gene therapy is crucial and that more bio-chips and bio-sensors have to be developed for early diagnosis and to be able to monitor diseases. 

According to the press release, developing indigenous technology for the production of low-cost rapid diagnostic kits should also be a top priority in the healthcare sector. Dr Harsh Vardhan noted that the increased use of technology in healthcare should bring about an increase in manpower; skilled labour is required to operate and manage the devices and equipment to ensure the optimal and safe use of technology. The Ministry intends to foster and support more collaborative teaching programmes with faculty from both medical and engineering institutions to promote skill development in healthcare technology. 

The Ministry earlier in June stated that the Ministry supports over 1.1 million students, teachers and researchers and has also launched various programs for young scientists and has successfully attracted more than 600 experts of Indian origin from overseas to return to the country. 

Over the last four years, the ministry has increased the quality and quantity of basic research, translation research, technology development, technology transfer, innovation and start-ups, and has been able to commercialise indigenous technology. Dr Harsh Vardhan noted that the funding for scientific research has been tripled in the last few years. India ranks sixth in the global list of scientific publications; the international growth rate of publishing scientific research papers is about 4% and according to the Ministry, for India, it is currently 40%.

Dr Harsh Vardhan noted that the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) ranks ninth among international institutions for public funding; and in the last four years, India has also been able to develop over 5,000 technologies and transferred over 800 technologies to the medical sector. These technological advancements have helped thousands of people with their start-ups, incubation centres, and technology parks.

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