In a bid to improve healthcare in rural and semi-rural India, the Minister of Health and Family Welfare, JP Nadda has asked private hospitals to set up their centres in these areas and make their services more affordable. Nadda called upon private hospitals to set up medical facilities in semi-rural areas to ensure accessibility. “I urge private institutions to establish their outfits in semi-rural areas to offer affordable treatment and help ensure accessibility to people in the region. At the same time, it should be an economically viable proposition for the hospitals as well to function from such centres,” said Nadda. “Such an arrangement would help in plugging the healthcare gaps in the country and contribute to the vision of universal healthcare,” he said. Nadda was speaking at the 13th India Health Summit 2016, organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) on Thursday. Referring to gaps in the supply of drugs and diagnostics, Nadda said that the National Health Protection Scheme would bring 6-7 crore additional families within the ambit of health insurance, which would translate into coverage of 40 crore people, a substantial improvement from past achievements.”India should also become a manufacturer of medical equipment instead of importing it in large quantities. Private hospitals can help in the health scheme coverage, and be assured that the government would continue to be an enabler and facilitator in achieving larger involvement of the private sector in the schemes,” said Nadda.The government has realised that optimal utilisation of resources for healthcare is a major challenge. “Some states have large unspent resources and are not furnishing utilisation certificates. While some states are proactive in spending and creating health infrastructure, some states are lagging,” Nadda said. Due to various reasons, private hospitals have been at loggerheads with the government. For example, cases of delayed payment to private hospitals by the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) against treatment of beneficiaries have been reported in the recent past.”There should be proper utilization of excess capacity of beds in private hospitals for treating patients referred by the government. Timely payment of medical bills incurred by such patients by the government is required.