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Responsible self-care for a robust health ecosystem in India

International Self-care Day serves as a reminder of the benefits of responsible self-care, calling on people to take charge of their health

By Sandeep Verma,

The healthcare landscape in India has evolved considerably. The pandemic has significantly impacted the sector, overwhelming the nation’s healthcare infrastructure and practitioners. This has exacerbated the effects of the low doctor-patient ratio, which is currently 1 doctor for approximately every 1,700 people in India. Simultaneously, India has witnessed a heightened and urgent focus on maintaining everyday health, good nutrition and building immunity. To ease the burden on healthcare practitioners and systems at this crucial juncture, while driving access to solutions that can sustain everyday health, self-care becomes imperative.

Driving Access, Proactiveness & Productivity

Consumer health offerings circumvent the need for clinic visits while ensuring people can opt for safe, convenient and effective daily health solutions. This enables individuals across urban, semi-urban and rural areas to access solutions for minor illnesses, adopt preventive health solutions to boost their energy and immunity and benefit from the gains of taking charge of their own health. This is particularly useful in communities wherein limited healthcare infrastructure poses significant obstacles, making self-care a useful and viable solution to scale nationwide.

Advancing self-care will also bolster the nation’s productivity. When Indians overlook everyday healthcare, productivity declines. An average Indian’s peak productive period lasts only seven years as per a Lancet study, referring to the number of years an individual is expected to work at peak productivity between the ages of 20 and 64 years. To utilize the potential of India’s young population, which is expected to form the world’s largest workforce by 2027, consumer health options should be made widely available for easy adoption. This will help limit lost labour time as well as reduce hospitalization costs., A healthy and highly productive workforce will also accelerate the economic recovery and power India’s drive towards self-reliance.

Responsible Self-care through Consumer Awareness

Raising consumer awareness plays a major role in supporting responsible, efficient adoption of self-care. Equipping people with reliable information on available over the counter (OTC) solutions empowers them to make informed choices so they can pursue better health and nutrition.

The widespread adoption of digital technology innovations can be leveraged to facilitate consumer health awareness. The industry has a central role to play here in making available quality information that is easily accessible by consumers, including at the point of care and point of purchase, to guide responsible self-care. Awareness on preventive healthcare can also promote enhanced health outcomes, such as higher energy levels and immunity, by supplementing nutritional gaps in individuals’ daily diets.

International Self-care Day serves as a reminder of the benefits of responsible self-care, calling on people to take charge of their health, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. By promoting consumer health solutions, people can be encouraged to live fuller, healthier lives.

The Need for a Comprehensive OTC Ecosystem

The OTC space in India is still at a nascent stage, although it is the fastest growing market globally and is expected to form part of the Top 4 markets by 2029. To streamline and maintain this growth, there is a need for a comprehensive OTC policy with effective laws and well-defined regulations. This can not only enable individuals to easily access OTC treatment options without the need for a prescription, but also help regulators more effectively implement controls on irrational consumption of prescription products.

A robust OTC sector will be conducive to further growth of the healthcare sector in India, while simultaneously strengthening the healthcare ecosystem. This can pave the way for increased availability of consumer health offerings and ensure public health considerations are addressed to ensure safety and quality.

Building a viable OTC ecosystem in India through consumer awareness, digital technology and effective regulations will empower individuals to proactively and responsibly manage their health and nutrition. A healthier, energized and highly productive workforce will ease the burden on health systems, which can direct efforts towards combatting serious illness, addressing unmet health needs and ensuring continuity of critical care. Moving forward, this self-care shift can transform India’s health landscape, making everyday care a reality for more than a billion Indians. That is the vision we must tirelessly strive towards.

(The author is Country Head – India, Consumer Health, Bayer. The article is for informational purposes only. Please consult health experts and medical professionals before starting any therapy or medication. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)

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