A Student’s Account of the India Field Seminar

in Graduate Students, Health Sector, School, Social Impact, Students
October 21st, 2011

HSMP India Seminar 2

Deedar Samant, a 2011 alumnus of the Health Sector Management program at the School of Management, shares his experience attending the India Field Seminar as a second-year MBA student.

Earlier this year, 20 students from Boston University School of Management, accompanied by two faculty members, visited three of India’s biggest and most rapidly developing cities: Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. Our journey began in the wintry, cold-gripped capital city of Delhi.  For four days we absorbed information and sights in this city rich with historic significance and landmarks, from the Mughals to India’s independence struggle with the British Raj.

Our visit to All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) was particularly interesting. Enjoying the good fortune of being located in the nation’s capital, AIIMS is backed by a surprisingly huge budget for a government hospital, which enables it to provide the populous with state-of-the-art services ranging from preventive to the best diagnostic and surgical services offered anywhere in the world. It was fascinating to observe the workings of the emergency department, which looked extremely busy even though the administrator accompanying us assured us that it was a relatively “light” day.

“India is a fascinating country with marked differences in languages, cultural practices, health care needs, and provisions and access to these services.”

Next, our encounters with two individuals on the opposite side of the battle, developing over drug patent protection rights, introduced us to the world of generic medicines and the economic and cultural issues linked with the struggle.

Next on our travel map was the city of Mumbai (formerly Bombay), undoubtedly the economic, fashion, entertainment, and street-food capital of India. To describe Mumbai in a single sentence, it is the perfect blend of New York and Los Angeles with an abundant cultural diversity. Our meeting with the head of the preventive medicine department of one of the largest government hospitals in Mumbai, and subsequent visit to the Dharavi urban health center, were wonderful experiences. The center (part of the government hospital system) provides absolute free preventive and medical services to the slum of Dharavi, with a population of more than a million.

“A visit to generic drug manufacturing firms strengthened our understanding of the market strategies applied by these companies in battling the multinational corporations in the highly lucrative Indian pharmaceutical market.”

A visit to the generic drug manufacturing firms of Glenmark and Cipla strengthened our understanding of the market strategies applied by these firms in battling the multinational corporations in the highly lucrative Indian pharmaceutical market.

Our last stop on the seminar brought us to the technology capital of India, Bangalore. A visit to Narayana Hrudayalaya (a cardiac care center) and an encounter with its founder, Dr Devi Shetty, was very rewarding. Our conversation with Dr Shetty made us realize the clarity and dedication of his vision in bringing quality medical services to the low income population at a fraction of the cost incurred by providers in the western world. The level of operating efficiency and progress achieved through simple, effective, evidence-based medical practices, prompted some of our team members to ask Dr Shetty for internships at his institute to discover more details on the organizations operating strategies and expansion initiatives.

“Indians have definitely broken the first set of codes unlocking the doors into the world of quality health care to the masses at highly affordable prices and will be a great resource of lessons-learned for the health care institutions in the US. “

India is a fascinating country with marked differences in languages, cultural practices, health care needs, and provisions and access to these services. The pace of development and ideation is tremendous but the infrastructure needed to sustain these processes is not keeping pace. There is a sincere effort on part of the government, and national as well as international private parties, to develop the infrastructure to ensure rapid and organized progress of the health care system. However, one fact prominently stands out: Indians have definitely broken the first set of codes unlocking the doors into the world of quality health care to the masses at highly affordable prices and will be a great resource of lessons-learned for the health care institutions here in the United States.