Health and wellbeing are not only of the highest importance to both the individual and to societies, they are also a fundamental human right. For as far as we can think, healthcare is a public good and therefore more a domain of the public sector than the private one. Governments and international institutions like the World Health Organization (WHO) have worked to integrate health and health care into their policies to ensure that health is regarded as a public good that must be achieved equitably and to the highest attainable level.
In achieving these goals that have become the basis for the alleviation of human disease and suffering, pharmaceutical companies have a definitive albeit evolving role to play. The role here is more collaborative than competitive and is to bring together researchers, physicians, leading government officials and representatives from industry as well as from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and health care systems with an aim to address the most pressing issues that medicine and health care delivery systems will face over time.
Medical progress and success in achieving equitable access to health care and preventive interventions are threatened by unsolved and newly emerging problems such as: the demographic shift to an ageing society; climate change and its health consequences; new types of epidemics, such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity and mental ill-health, in addition to the still raging epidemics of diseases such as HIV, TB, and malaria; the rising costs of health care; and the worldwide economic crisis and its serious threats to the health of population across India.
The rapid progress of medical science and technology opens up exciting possibilities for diagnosis, therapy, and prevention with the potential to improve health, security, and economic stability. In practice, though, the mechanisms to facilitate and evaluate the implementation of innovations in health care are largely absent. Consequently, the huge potential of medical progress is far from being sufficiently realized.
The challenge for equitable healthcare delivery in India is to clearly define goals and responsibilities, and secure investments for the development and use of new technologies, medical advances, and healthcare delivery. The national health care systems of many developing countries are ill equipped to provide healthcare to their burgeoning populations thereby necessitating the use of novel and innovative health care delivery models. Stable public-private partnerships and renewed political engagement with the understanding of health as a public good will be the basis for harnessing innovative power and scientific development and will be crucial for translating new insights into advances for health. It is time to show leadership and ignite the entrepreneurial spirit. It is time to think of the solutions that social entrepreneurship can offer to this problem.