5,000 infant warmers, cardiac stents, or cancer drugs: How will India choose?

India is embarking on an ambitious journey to provide UHC for its 1.2bn people, one sixth of the world’s population, through a national health assurance scheme. Today’s move of RSBY (India’s largest health insurance scheme, for its Below Poverty Line population) into the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare appears to be a significant step towards that goal.

Regardless of the structure or budget of the national health assurance scheme that is finally decided on, there will always remain difficult questions of which interventions (from drugs, diagnostics, devices to public health interventions) the benefits package will cover, how, and for whom. This is where evidence-informed priority-setting tools and processes, such as HTA and clinical guidelines, can help to provide a robust framework for stakeholders to make and act on informed decisions, taking into account society’s values and preferences, and for regularly reviewing these decisions.

The discussions and insights from the Better Decisions for Better Health workshop in October 2014 (co-hosted by NICE International, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the World Bank in India), which brought together iDSI experts and other international and Indian partners, remain as relevant as ever.

Making decisions in healthcare is never easy. As one keynote speaker remarked: “How do we choose between buying 5,000 infant warmers, or stents for cardiac patients, or drugs for someone with cancer?” But these decisions still need to be made, since not doing so amounts to a decision that someone else will make instead.

We argue that evidence-informed priority-setting is the way to better decisions for better health, and that is no different for the UK, Thailand, or India.

Download: Priority-setting and Health Technology Assessment for Universal Health Coverage in India: Workshop Summary

With thanks to Abha Mehndiratta