Role of Culture, Values, and Politics in the Implementation of Health Technology Assessment in India: A Commentary
India is a diverse land with different cultures, social norms, castes, religions, faiths, languages, politics, and a complex healthcare system. As a step to enhance healthcare, the government of India announced a move toward universal health coverage to increase accessibility and affordability of health-related services. Recently, there has been an introduction of health technology assessment (HTA) in India to help inform evidence-based decision making in cases of limited resources and budgets. Nevertheless, there are challenges related to biased decision making, an unregulated healthcare framework, and the lack of data and capacity that will (directly or indirectly) affect the use of HTA in India. For HTA to be successful in India and in similar low- and middle-income countries, it is important that the decision makers acknowledge these challenges and embrace differences in ideologies, cultures, and politics instead of ignoring them. Drawing lessons from countries with well-developed HTA bodies may help, but these need to be modified for the country-specific context. Ensuring quality and transparency is key to building trust in medical decision making. Improved coordination at all levels of healthcare is vital to ensure the long-term success of HTA in India. This is challenging but achievable by spreading awareness among stakeholders and achieving moderate health-sector regulation that can combat corruption. HTA will prosper in India if it incorporates cultural and institutional diversity, alongside tackling socioeconomic inequalities.
Shilpi Swami Tushar Srivastava