Doctors and business personnel for the largest healthcare group in Asia, Apollo Hospitals, visited the Ministry of Health yesterday.
Head of International Business for Apollo Hospitals, Dr. Harinder Singh Sidhu spoke with the media about their visit following a memorandum of understanding with the Samoa Government, which covers providing specialist healthcare as well as plans to develop Samoa’s medical personnel.
“We work with African continents and Middle Eastern areas and we have engaged with the Pacific Islands in the past four years.We worked extensively in Fiji and we are very excited to be here in Samoa, we have signed up with the Ministry of Health in Samoa to share our knowledge and expertise to help the healthcare services here. In breaking into the next level, we are looking at a teaching capacity in training our doctors here.”
Accompanying Dr. Harinder, were oncologist specialist Dr. Kausik Bhattacharya and kidney transplant specialist, Dr. D. Vijaya Rajakumari, who each took a turn to speak about how they could contribute to advancing Samoa’s health care services.
While the oncologist and kidney specialists have been here, they have had a chance to see some patients in Samoa and discuss with the local specialist doctors about which cases can be managed here and how they can assist locally.
Dr. Harinder added: “Then also if patients need to come to India right, we discuss what requirements are needed right now, what are the treatment plans, costs, and how the post treatment plan will be done.
“We are looking at maintaining a continuum of care, we are not looking at Apollo coming in one time or the patient comes for treatment and then comes back. We are looking at a patient getting a seamless care; along with the doctors here we will keep in touch with the doctors in Apollo so that we can give updates of the developments of the patients’ diseases and prognosis.”
Responding to questions about how India can keep their medical costs so affordable, Dr. Harinder pointed out that with a population of 1.4 billion, India’s cost saving advantages are a result of economies of scale, adding that it is not a compromise on quality.
“To send someone over for heart related diseases to New Zealand for care, the cost is NZ$35,000 per person, that cost does not include airfares or accommodation. For that amount, you can take 75 patients for the same care to India.
“The cost of treatment in India is very good. For comparison purposes, heart surgery which would cost US$100,000 (T$255,202) or NZ$60,000 (T$106,149) – it can be done in India for $6,000 and similarly there is a better outcome with a 99 percent success rate. A kidney transplant would be US$150,000 (T$382,781) but in India it would be $15,000, about one tenth of the cost.”
“We were told that in 2004 and 2005, Samoan patients had to go out for dialysis and they only had an x-amount of dollars for five patients. In 2018, they have the same budget but for 209 patients.”
The Apollo Hospitals group has 71 hospitals all over India; they also offer health insurance and have a pharmaceuticals division.
“We also want to take this opportunity to thank the M.O.H. for putting their trust in Apollo hospitals,” said Dr. Harinder.
“They have worked with hospitals in New Zealand and other places but this is the first time they will work with Apollo Hospitals in Samoa and we are sure that it will be a very fruitful one for all.
“We are very excited to see the vision of the Government. Yesterday, we had the honour of meeting the Hon. Prime Minister and the Health Minister, when you go out to low socio-economic areas of the country, healthcare is a very high priority for the Government. We really appreciate the vision of the Government. The idea of Samoa meeting self-sustainability of healthcare, that is what we are targeting – we’re not just here to treat your patients, we are looking at how to make Samoa self-sustainable.”