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The Indian arm of GE Healthcare, the $17 billion healthcare business of General Electric Company, is promoting a unique public-private partnership (PPP) initiative to bring accessible and affordable rural healthcare across India.

'There is huge healthcare infrastructure in India, but the utilisation is very low. Hence, we are partnering various state governments to provide holistic solutions,' explained V. Raja, president and CEO GE Healthcare South Asia.

Under the three way PPP model, state governments provide space, GE donates equipment and a third private partner runs the health centres, he said at a just concluded annual show of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA 2009) here.

With this model, five diagnostic imaging centres have been set up in five medical colleges and hospitals in Gujarat, another is bringing the benefits of latest technologies to thousands in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh and yet another pilot project is underway in Uttar Pradesh.

'We are now in the process of (also) working with five to six other state governments. We have started with diagnostic imaging solutions and people are seeing a lot of merit in this,' Raja said. 'We plan to replicate this PPP model with other technologies as well, including maternal and infant care.'

The latest such PPP project with a difference was launched a couple of months ago to advance availability and use of critical medical technologies and support primary healthcare delivery in Banavaram in Tamil Nadu.

As part of its joint 'healthymagination' initiative, GE Healthcare and a group of its Asian American employees have adopted Banavaram's Primary Health Centre (PHC) in an effort to provide that community with better access to affordable healthcare.
Together, GE Healthcare and GE's company-wide Asian-Pacific American Forum (APAF) are contributing $100,000 (about Rs.4.5 million) for a two-year programme that will include creating a medical-technology infrastructure at the clinic and training its employees in its use.

At the end of the two-year programme, all equipment will be donated to the PHC.

APAF is an organisation of more than 4,000 GE employees who have come to the US from countries throughout Asia and the Pacific Islands and are working to improve the quality of life in their regions, particularly developing countries.

The donation supports GE's 'healthymagination' initiative, the goal of which is to make quality healthcare accessible and affordable everywhere in the world, particularly in underserved markets in developing regions.

At Banavaram PHC, GE Healthcare will install the latest obstetric and other medical technologies to facilitate institutional deliveries of babies and provide advanced care to mothers, babies and the entire population.

With passionate GE APAF volunteers contributing their time besides funds 'we're confident that we will be able to build a `grassroots' model that will yield far reaching benefits for years to come', said Gaurav Agarwal, leader of APAF for GE Healthcare.
The same model could be used to develop the existing infrastructure capabilities at more than 23,000 PHCs across India, which find it difficult to provide quality healthcare due to their stretched thin, Raja said calling private partnerships critical in increasing healthcare access to the masses.

GE Healthcare has also partnered with various state governments to extend healthcare access and together they are running a number of programmes in India and Bangladesh.

Partners include Manipal Hospital, Bangalore for cardiac screening in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh; Grameen Health for maternal and infant care in Bangladesh and NICE Foundation in Andhra Pradhesh for maternal infant care and manpower training.


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