India, Sweden join hands to set up healthcare innovation centre

New Delhi, Dec 3 (PTI) India and Sweden on Tuesday joined hands to set up a healthcare innovation centre to promote research, broadly in non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and help scale-up Indian start-ups in the sector, top officials said.

'This year marks 10 years of India-Sweden cooperation in healthcare. And today, AIIMS, Delhi; AIIMS, Jodhpur, and Swedish Trade Commissioner's Office in Delhi joined hands to set up a healthcare innovation centre,' Niclas Jacobson, a senior official in Sweden's ministry of health and social affairs, told PTI.

The announcement about the cooperation was made earlier in the presence of Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

AIIMS-Delhi Finance Director Randeep Guleria, AIIMS-Jodhpur Director Sanjeev Misra and Swedish Trade Commissioner in New Delhi Anders Wickberg later signed a Memorandum of Intent (MoI) to cement the cooperation, Embassy officials said.

Union Minister of Health Harsh Vardhan, Minister of State for Health Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Union Health Secretary Preeti Sudan and Swedish State Secretary to the Minister for Health and Social Affairs Maja Fjaestad were present during the signing of the MoI.

Fjaestad, who is travelling with the Swedish royal couple on their visit to India, said the cooperation between India and Sweden has 'grown in strength' over the past decade.

'This year also marks Sweden-India Year of Health and we are excited about the road ahead in this partnership. The new cooperation among the two AIIMS and the Swedish side will be a broad-scoped one and work in areas of cancer and other NCDs, besides innovation,' she said.

Senior officials at the Swedish Embassy said the partnership would also see a 'coordination cell' being set up at the Swedish Trade Commissioner's Office here.

'It will look at the entire ecosystem and will promote innovation broadly in NCDs and other disease areas as we go ahead, besides innovation in technology, processes, data, business models and skilling,' said Yasmin Zaveri Roy, senior advisor, Trade and Economic Affairs, at the Embassy.

The signing of the MoI marks 10 years of India-Sweden health cooperation.

'This collaboration is built on the quadruple-helix model with the active participation of government, academia, private enterprises and civil society. The broad vision of the collaboration is to strengthen the healthcare delivery system by an outcome and result based approach,' Swedish Trade Commissioner Wickberg was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the Embassy later.

AIIMS-Delhi Director Guleria said, 'AIIMS-Delhi was created to serve as a nucleus for nurturing excellence in all aspects of healthcare'.

'The institution continues to serve humanity by advancing knowledge, improving healthcare and saving lives. AIIMS Delhi is at the forefront of using innovation to improve therapeutics and translate science insights into new treatments,' he said.

The India-Sweden innovation centre collaboration will strengthen India's efforts in finding innovative solutions for 'affordable and accessible healthcare in India,' Guleria said.

The centre is envisioned to develop an ecosystem of open innovation that healthcare delivery stakeholders can use to collaborate and address current and future challenges in the healthcare sector in India, the embassy statement said.

'It will enable development and scale up of solutions through frugal innovation for affordable and accessible healthcare in line with the objectives of the government of India, including technology, data, protocols and processes, skill development and business models,' the statement said.

Director Sanjeev Misra said, 'AIIMS-Jodhpur has been established with a mission to be a centre of excellence in medical education, training, research and patient care. The institution is committed to providing better services to patients by using innovation across all aspects'.

With AIIMS-Jodhpur hosting important components of the India-Sweden innovation centre collaboration, the institution will contribute to create positive impact across the healthcare delivery system in the country, he said.

The knowledge partner was represented by Chairman of the board of global biopharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca, Leif Johansson, who reinforced the importance of innovation to achieve the ambition of providing affordable and accessible healthcare to all in the country. PTI KND ABH ABH