Chandigarh : School of Public Health started a 4-day “National Workshop on Economic Evaluation in Health Care” from February 19th to 22nd, 2013, as part of the Golden Jubilee celebrations of Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh. The workshop was inaugurated by Director PGIMER Prof Yogesh Chawla. Workshop has been sponsored by FHI International 360 and Centre for Disease Control.
Speaking on the occasion, Prof Yogesh Chawla in his inaugural address emphasized that health sector in India has historically been a neglected portfolio in the allocations by finance ministry. Health Economics is a very well developed specialty in the developed countries. Prof. Chawla also informed that most of decisions in the UK, regarding the drugs, diagnostics and medical technologies to be commissioned under the National Health Service (NHS) are based on the cost effectiveness of those medical technologies. However, in India we lack the capacity and skilled professionals in the field of health economics who can undertake such economic valuations.
He appreciated that PGIMER Chandigarh is undertaking a lead in the country in developing this specialty of Health Economics. During this Golden Jubilee year PGIMER has started an online course in basic health economics which will be followed by an advanced course in health economics. There is another proposal to establish a fellowship program in health economics for faculty working in different medical colleges and research institutions across the country.
In addition to this, PGIMER School of Public Health is also undertaking collaborative research to evaluate the cost effectiveness of newer and advanced forms of clinical care in the departments of Hepatology, Cardiology and Neurology in PGIMER. Such health technology assessments (HTA) can also guide the development of clinical care protocols in other health centres in the country.
He lauded the efforts of the School of Public Health in organizing this workshop on Economic Evaluation in Health Care. This is first of its kind in India. He said that he is hopeful that discussions during the course will be beneficial in creating new knowledge and skills for the participants which in turn would benefit their organizations and also the country.
Dr Rajesh Kumar, Head School of Public Health in his welcome address informed that applying the economics principles to health care is fast emerging an important need of the country in order to get the best value of the minimal resources being invested in health. India has been spending less than 1% of its GDP on health during the past 20 years. Besides lesser overall resources, the public sector spending was not considered efficient. Last few years have shown a change and National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) has seen an increased availability of funds available for health sector. However, the availability of extra resources brings with it the challenge of utilizing the resources. This brings to fore the need to analyze our health interventions from an economic viewpoint.
He also made the audience aware that PGIMER is taking a lead in undertaking research in the field of health economics which is guiding policy at the national level. As part of the National AIDS Control Program’s Mid Term Review, an economic evaluation of the country’s prevention program was conducted. This evaluation helped establish cost effectiveness of the targeted intervention program which created advocacy for continued funding for the program in NACP IV. A study to estimate the cost of universal health care undertaken by PGIMER contributed to development of policy for universal health care. The School of Public Health also undertook a cost effectiveness study for child health programs. Lot of technical support in guiding development of health programs in our neighbouring states of Haryana and Punjab is being provided.
Dr Shankar Prinja, Assistant Professor of Health Economics, School of Public Health, PGIMER and workshop coordinator, told that the workshop aims to build knowledge and skills to critically interpret the published economic reports and to commission and design economic evaluation studies. These skills are pertinent when it comes to considering how to utilize the available resources efficiently. Dr Shankar Prinja, Dr Arun K Aggarwal, from PGIMER Chanidgarh, and Prof. Barun Kanjilal from Indian Institute of Health Management Research, Jaipur will be resource persons for the workshop.
About 25 health care professionals working in development organizations such as Centre for Disease Control (CDC), Family Health International 360 (FHI 360) and UNICEF are attending this workshop.