Maharashtra government hospitals partner with private firms for advanced healthcare services

Maharashtra government hospitals partner with private firms for advanced healthcare services

Maharashtra government hospitals partner with private firms for advanced healthcare services (Representational pic)

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Maharashtra’s district and sub-district hospitals are gearing up to offer advanced diagnostic and treatment services like MRI, CT scans, and dialysis with the help of private partnerships. While this move aims to enhance healthcare access in remote areas, it has sparked debates among public health experts, who question the decision to outsource critical services.

In a significant development, the public health department of Maharashtra has recently inked agreements with private entities to establish and manage 22 MRI and 31 CT scan facilities. Contracts for MRI and CT scan services were secured by Krshnaa Diagnostics and Unique Wellness, while Escag Sanjeevani from Kolkata bagged the deal to operate dialysis services at 68 centers.

Under this model, private firms will be responsible for developing infrastructure, procuring machines, hiring manpower, and overseeing operations within government hospital premises. While patients will receive treatment for free, the government will be billed for the services rendered. Additionally, a dozen cardiac cath labs, currently under development, are also expected to be handed over to private agencies for operations.

An official from the state health services highlighted the significance of this initiative, stating that patients in remote areas will finally have access to life-saving diagnostics and treatments previously unavailable in the public system. He emphasized the challenges faced by the government in efficiently running services in semi-urban areas, making outsourcing the most feasible choice.

The state has entered into 10-year MOUs with these companies, allowing for cost recovery over time. Private players will bill the government at subsidised rates for MRI and CT scan services. The state anticipates significant patient footfall at these facilities, with each MRI and CT scan center expected to accommodate a considerable number of patients daily.

However, public health experts have expressed concerns about the outsourcing decision. While acknowledging the need for specialized services in district hospitals, they question the efficacy of public-private partnerships (PPPs). Some experts advocate for strengthening government infrastructure to provide services more cost-effectively, citing successful models from other states like Delhi, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu.

In essence, while the partnership between Maharashtra’s government hospitals and private firms aims to expand healthcare access, it also raises important questions about the long-term implications of outsourcing critical healthcare services.