By Dr. Laura M. Musambayi,
Medical Officer, National Spinal Injury Referral Hospital.
MBA, Healthcare Management Student.
“Cabin crew prepare for take-off!” the captain’s voice sounded over the intercom! Occupying about forty seats in section C of the Boeing 777 economy class, were MBA Healthcare Management students from Cohorts 4 and 5.
No one can ever prepare you for the suffocating heat that hits one in the face as soon as you cross the threshold of the slide door exit of Indira Gandhi airport. It comes at you like it has a vendetta. It then envelopes you like a snuggle blanket.
Fortunately for us, Senior Manager – Mr. John Mwai had jetted in a few days earlier and organized an air-conditioned tour bus. We headed for the Marriott where we had a surprise in store. Since Strathmore will be Strathmore even in India we had Sunday brunch with the Deputy High commissioner of Kenya to India! Ambassador Belinda Omino, who was accompanied by a counselor from the high commission, Mr. Ndegwa.
Mr. Ndegwa spoke on how India has optimized its human resource for health, developed a thriving local pharmaceutical industry and maintained a vibrant private health facility to offer affordable care to its citizens as well as promote medical tourism. The ambassador, on the other hand, challenged us to identify the subtle differences in the health systems of the two countries, emphasizing that whatever solutions we chose to borrow from India would have to be adapted to Kenya’s specific needs.
We embarked on a five-hour journey that would take us to Chandigarh, our city of interest. Located 260 Kilometres North of New Delhi, Chandigarh is the capital of two neighboring states, Haryana and Punjab. Chandi-garh means fortress of the god Chandi. Chandigarh was also voted the happiest city in India in 2015.
Chitkara University had assembled a team of experts in various fields in the health sector to give us an in-depth understanding of the health system in India. These included accomplished professors in healthcare management, health system analysts, representatives from pharmaceutical industries and innovators. The day ended with a traditional dance from Chitkara University students. In the spirit of reciprocity, our team also introduced them to Kenyan music and popular dances.
We visited Fortis Hospital in Mohali, one of the largest chains in the country. It was fascinating to learn that the out-patient departments are manned by specialists, while medical officers are stationed in the in-patient areas. Further, all permanently employed staff in Indian hospitals do not take up locum hours anywhere else.
In the afternoon, we had a chance to visit the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER). This is a public health facility that was established in 1962 for the training of various cadres of health professionals and provision of high-quality healthcare for patients. True to its mission, despite seeing about 11,000 patients a day, PGIMER is able to achieve levels of efficiency akin to a large private hospital in Kenya.
The pharmaceutical industry in India ranks 3rd in the world, volume wise, with a domestic market worth USD 13.8 Billion in 2013. The visits to Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories and Alkem limited, demonstrated how local companies have maximized on the divestment of multinational drug companies in the India pharmaceutical industry, as enabled by the Patent Act of 1970. This act removed composition patents from food and drugs, and though it kept process patents, shortened these to a period of five to seven years.
The trip home was much quieter and reserved. I think the weight and import of all we had seen, heard and experienced was gradually beginning to sink in. A sustainable solution must be found amidst all the chaos that is our current health system. It will not be easy, but nothing innovative ever is.
About the MBA – Healthcare Management Programme International Module
The Master in Business Administration-Healthcare Management Programme offers an intensive one-week international module. This year, the students were hosted at Chitkara University, with visits to Fortis Hospital, Punjab Government Health Department, Dr. Reddys Lab, ALKEM Lab and Equipment Manufacturing Company. The module delivered by renowned Health care experts and Business Leaders in the healthcare sector gives a rich blend between the involvement of academia and industry players. Through the learnings from top healthcare facilities in India from both Privately and Government owned Health facilities, participants can effectively put the knowledge gained into practice.