December 4, 2015 – In a visit organized by ACCESS Health International, policymakers from Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania met with three healthcare organizations in India to discover innovative strategies that can help advance health reforms and improve health outcomes in their own countries. The visit introduced the policymakers to the Dr. NTR Vaidya Seva Scheme, which was formerly known as the Rajiv Aarogyasri Scheme, the GVK Emergency Management and Research Institute, and LifeSpring Hospitals.
“India has successfully implemented several health financing reforms to provide coverage to the informal sector and families living below the poverty line,” explained Bhavesh Jain, the consultant leading the international linkages work at ACCESS Health India. “Against the backdrop of the India-Africa Summit held in New Delhi last month, this initiative provides a fertile environment for cross learning between India and other low and middle income countries.”
Claims management practices, medical audits, partnerships with private providers, package pricing, and costing of health services have all emerged as priority areas where technical support is needed. The study visit provided the opportunity to learn from the various challenges related to the introduction of health financing reforms and policy tools in India. Instead of reinventing the wheel, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania will be able to replicate many of the health financing and delivery strategies the are learning from India.
The visit was part of the Health Financing Support Program, an ACCESS Health International initiative supported by the UK Department for International Development (DFID). The Health Financing Support Program works with low and middle income countries to develop capacity building programs and learning exchange programs to provide technical support for health financing reforms.
The visiting policymakers toured the offices of the Dr. NTR Vaidya Seva Trust in Hyderabad. “The Dr. NTR Vaidya Seva Scheme has enrolled more than eighty five percent of the population of the state,” said Mr. Jain. “The program provides high quality tertiary care services at a cost of less than three US dollars per person. The success of the program is a major learning opportunity for low and middle income countries. This is truly a universal health coverage initiative.”
Chief Executive Officer Ravi Shankar provided a brief overview of the program. He credited its success to the robust information technology platform and highly trained implementation team.
At LifeSpring Hospitals, the visiting policymakers learned about the public private partnership model that allows the organization to deliver high quality and affordable obstetric and reproductive care to five million low income women across twelve hospital locations. According to hospital executive Vijaybhaskar Srinivas, the average costs for delivery services at LifeSpring Hospitals is 18,033 Indian rupees, approximately 275 US dollars, compared to 24,608 Indian rupees, approximately 375 dollars in other urban hospitals in Telangana.
The final destination for the international visitors was the Emergency Management Research Institute (EMRI). The emergency ambulance service handles about twenty two thousand emergencies on a daily basis, including in remote areas, and has saved over one million lives till date.
Following this first study visit, the policymakers from Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania identified the priority areas for technical support for each of their countries. ACCESS Health International will continue to work with the countries to develop further capacity building programs and knowledge exchange visits in the identified priority areas.