India and Britain to sign health agreement

Updated: Jan 18, 2013, 17:48 PM IST

Chennai: India and Britain will soon sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the health sector for greater cooperation between the two countries, said a senior official.

Speaking to reporters here Friday Keshav Desiraju, additional secretary for health, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said: "The MoU will cover areas of common interest like the primary health-care, strengthening of non-communicable disease prevention, health research and the need for exchange of professionals - doctors."

He said there should be two way exchanges of doctors between India and Britain.

Queried about government`s plans to provide incentives to doctors to serve in rural areas, Desiraju referring to the Britain`s National Health System (NHS) said a regulatory mechanism is present for doctors to serve in areas where there is an acute need.

"In India, health is a state subject. We have to persuade the state to look at the ways to reach doctors and others to rural areas," Desiraju said.

Queried about NHS and her government`s plans to have private partnership Minister of Health, Britain, Anna Soubry said: "Medicines and equipments are bought from the private sector."

She said under NHS, the health-care is provided free to the people and the funds are met out of taxes.

Stating that the previous government had brought private sector into the NHS fold, Soubry said the present government is taking action so that a balance is maintained between public and private sectors.

Earlier inaugurating the two day Indo-UK Diabetes Summit Soubry said the NHS had faced several challenges.

She said India is a generation ahead in terms of medical technology.

According to her, diabetes is six times more common in South Asian ethnic groups in Britain.