Three years after it was set up, a little-known and yet to be fully constituted health technology assessment board of the Union government is looking at guidance from a British institute and a Thai programme to assess technology and options on the road to a universal health coverage (UHC).
The Department of Health Research (DHR), under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, recently signed an MoU with the National Institute of Care and Excellence (NICE) of the United Kingdom for help and capacity-building in UHC.
India is also in the process of joining the online network of Thailand’s Health Intervention and Technology Assessment Programme (HITAP). The programme was set up after Thailand decided to offer health coverage to all its people through careful selection of interventions and packages.
“We have got the medical technology assessment board (MTAB) which has drawn up a list of priorities, but many of them are too broad,” said Soumya Swaminathan, Secretary, DHR, who is representing India at the Prince Mahidol Award Conference here to discuss the road to priority-setting for universal health coverage.
Swaminathan said the government is also keen on engaging HITAP as it is “closer in some ways to the Indian context”.
The MTAB under the DHR was set up in 2012. The government then had felt the need for an autonomous body of experts, along the lines of NICE, to independently assess and evaluate emerging and existing medical interventions and make recommendations about the healthcare package. The board, however, has for all practical purposes been a non-starter. It is headed by V M Katoch, former director-general of Indian Council of Medical Research, but the rest of the members are yet to be appointed.