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PPP fails to woo pvt healthcare

Joe C Mathew  |  New Delhi 

Lack of clear modalities on the public-private partnership (PPP) model is delaying the much-hyped entry of the private healthcare sector as a big-time service provider in government hospitals across the country.
Barring a few instances, none of the major corporate healthcare entities like Apollo, Fortis, Max and Wockhardt has so far announced any plans to partner with the government in a big way.
"The corporate hospitals will not be interested in government facilities unless the partnership models are clearly defined," Fortis Healthcare CEO Shivinder Mohan Singh says.
Singh's apprehension continues even after his hospital chain Fortis agreed to take up the operational responsibilities of two public sector facilities "" in Raipur and Navi Mumbai.
"The PPPs in Mumbai and Raipur are different. While we have been allowed to run a 45-bedded hospital in Raipur, we have been given charge of a privately-developed tertiary hospital attached to a government municipal hospital in Mumbai. In both cases there are clauses that provide for free beds," A Fortis spokesperson explains.
Singh feels that the rules should prevent unnecessary government intervention in the functioning of the hospitals.
Vishal Bali, CEO of Workhardt Hospitals, agrees. "For PPPs to happen, there has to be very clear cut frameworks laid down by the state governments. The standards should help such partnerships become a viable model on a long-term basis," Bali says.
Though the PPP model looks to be far away, state governments are trying hard to evolve institution-specific and location-specific partnership deals in healthcare delivery space.
For instance, Kerala, which has one of the most networked healthcare infrastructure in the public sector, has invited private players in areas like infrastructure development, training of staff and systems development.
"By 2025, Kerala will have more senior citizens than below 14-year olds. We need to have our healthcare system augmented to tackle a host of problems that cannot be handled at the primary healthcare level. Private participation is the only way," a senior state government official said.
According to the Planning Commission, 60 new medical colleges and 325 new nursing colleges are expected to come up during the next five years. Even this will not serve the increasing healthcare needs.
"This will have to be scaled up 4-5 times by private sector if we need to meet the demand," RR Shah, member secretary, Planning Commission, points out.
With 80 per cent healthcare infrastructure lying with the public sector and 80 per cent healthcare delivery in the hands of the private sector, the government has no option but to attract private players.
"On the operational side, lot of public infrastructure needs to get into the hands of private sector. Most of the tertiary services, and to a large extent, secondary services should be operated by the private sector," Shah feels.

First Published: Thu, December 27 2007. 00:00 IST