THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The lackadaisical approach of the state health department to tap the potentialities of health technology assessment (HTA) has perhaps set the state’s health sector back.
Despite having the opportunity to conduct HTA based studies through the Achutha Menon Centre for Health Science Studies (AMCHSS), a regional resource centre for HTA in India (HTAIn), the state is yet to make use of the same.
Such studies, if mulled, could have helped the policy-makers in taking decisions regarding health resource allocation and reducing the out-of-pocket expenditure (OOPE) on health. “It seems that we missed the bus for HTA. It was in last June that AMCHSS was selected as the regional resource centre for HTAIn. But even after a year, the state Health Department couldn’t propose a single study under the initiative,” said an officer with the Health Department.
The Department of Health Research (DHR) of the Union Ministry of Health launched the HTAIn to evaluate the appropriateness and cost-effectiveness of the available and new health technologies to the patients through various services and interventions.
Meanwhile, sources with the department said that Kesavendra Kumar, the State Mission Director of the National Health Mission, has been entrusted to coordinate between the health department and AMCHSS to expedite the process of making use of the centre for HTA.Kesavendra Kumar ‘Express’ that he would take things forward in consultation with AMCHSS Director Dr V Ramankutty.
“A stakeholder orientation and selection of focus area for HTA is also under consideration,” Kumar said.
Meanwhile, AMCHSS director said that the centre conducts research upon the direction of the DHR. “The state could also suggest its topics for research,” he said.
While pitching for a study, the state should ensure certain criteria including the effectiveness of the available intervention, the economic impact on household expenditure, availability and relevance of evidence for conducting HTA and health sector priority and policy objectives. “We are now conducting a community level study on the effectiveness of pulse oximeter (a device used to monitor the amount of oxygen carried in the body) in the treatment of pneumonia among children,” Ramankutty added.