Often referred to as the most successful MoU in our joint arsenal, the healthcare cooperation has done much to bring India and Sweden closer. Though vastly different demographically, our countries share similar challenges due to a very decentralized governance structure and a large percentage of our populations living far from health care centers. As such, many of the common challenges we face can only be overcome through collaboration and cooperation. In the coming year, ahead of the MoU's 10th anniversary, it was decided during the actual Joint Working Group meeting to take stock on what has been accomplished and explore new areas of collaboration.
For the private sector, this means we need more clarity on the recent bevy of policy changes. Although these changes for the large part have improved the business climate, they are quite confusing not only for the Swedes but Indian themselves. The Indian delegation, which included a senior representative from the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO), very generously shared their business cards with the Swedish companies present for the roundtable and assured each and every one of them to personally call in case of any issues.
The delegation also got a chance to see some of the Swedish products in use at Akademiska in Uppsala and was much impressed by the extremely close collaboration between professors, researchers, medical professionals, investors, and industry. While the Indian government representatives understood that these are the ingredients making Sweden such fertile ground for innovation, they had never truly appreciated how tightly, both physically and intellectually, these actors work together. This was further emphasized during their visit to EMPE Diagnostics at the Karolinska Science Park with which they ended the trip.
Going forward, Swecare, at the behest of some of our members, will focus on:
- the inclusion of quality criteria in public healthcare tenders - looking in not just the lowest, but the total cost, and
- exemptions based on global health threats (such as AMR which features prominently in the new Indian National Health Policy) for the price caps being introduced for certain Medtech products by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority.
We are also working to ensure more continuity in our activities with India. Part of this will be through regularly planned trips to India and the cultivation of relationships with potential partners on the ground. If you have any suggestions or requests, do get in touch. India is a vast, and often overwhelming, country but the rewards for successful partnership could eventually affect the national and global health threats facing both Sweden and India - not to mention improve the lives of people.