MakeinIndia for Medical Technology Applications need of the hour

 Technological developments are taking place at a rapid stride. All round engineering research resulting in smart materials, processes, products and applications are changing the face of the society. For cutting edge innovations, barriers are diminishing between engineering disciplines. Inter, multi and cross disciplinary approach is essential in order to contribute for medical and allied sectors. Modern health care is the need of the hour towards sustenance and survival of mankind.

Advanced materials, devices and instrumentation techniques for medical diagnostics and surgical interventions for the medical community and their present status in the country is the core issue.

Global developments are phenomenal and India must cope up to achieve indigenous strength and self-reliance. From instrumentation angle, even a Glucometer or a Digital Pressure Meter are imported and not produced in the country, forget about complex scanning machines and MRI&rsquos.  It is astonishing that innumerable local instrumentation companies and stake holders never had an urge to aspire in this direction of societal necessity.

More concentrated output is necessary with the objective of bridging the gap between the medical and engineering fraternities. It is pertinent to note that doctors are unable to tap the readily usable rapid technological advances to their advantage with the gospel belief that imported black box is superior than the local one. Some smart materials and technologies available in laboratories are to be visualised and tapped by medical professionals to be appropriately absorbed in their respective practices. Enhanced research at the national level with public private partnership is vital, assuming government is proactive.

Innovative accomplishments

Indigenously, a few examples of strategic materials technology for medical applications are noteworthy with the initiatives of ISRO and DRDO.

Artificial heart pump/Left ventricular assist device [AHP/LVAD] has been indigenised by ISRO.

Special steel alloy used in rocket motor stages is successfully indigenised into a cardiac stent tube at one-tenth of the cost of an imported device by DRDO.

Composite materials used in upper stages of launch vehicle are similarly converted for Light weight orthotic/prosthetic products for specially abled by DRDO.

Famous Jaipur Foot has been modified by using Polyurethane Foam [PUF] for more flexibility by ISRO.

Titanium alloys applicable in satellite gas bottles of ISRO are used in dental field.

Artificial diaphragm of permalloy is successfully fabricated by DRDO and used in laryngectomy patients.

ISRO and DRDO thus possess a commendable record of indigenisation in medical products sector.

It is surprising that innumerable instrumentation organisations in the country did not aspire to work in medical direction.

State of art subjects of relevance

Let us have a quick glance at the &lsquostate of art&rsquo subjects of technological relevance to be incorporated in future deliverables.

Nano technology

The advent of Nano technology including Nano materials and manufacturing techniques are set to invade in medical/surgical innovation.  The future is calling for bio Nano research.

Stem cell technology

Stem Cell technology is going to create a revolutionary hope for human survival from incurable afflictions by means of achieving regeneration of nerves and recorrection of defective organs as part of modern rehabilitation engineering.

Telemedicine for society

This technology conceptualised by Indian Space Research Organization [ISRO] has brought the novel culture of modern health care to the remote/distant corners of the country by establishing links with Metro medical institutions regarding consultations, diagnosis and surgical intervention via tele and video conferencing. These facilities are to be significantly enhanced in different parts of India, surprisingly Maharashtra and some other states do not have any such facility.

Considering global progress in above sectors, India has to catch up in order to be self-reliant. Unfortunately, this core area is highly imports based with a heavy toll on foreign exchange. Indigenisation of medical instrumentation is on a very slow pace, but materials/devices production by renowned Indian medical companies is on the upswing.

As already mentioned, though government is proactive, it has to motivate R&D organisations and industries to rise to the occasion. Governmental sponsoring agencies are encouraging innovative and focussed research proposals from researchers.

Summary

Why rapid indigenisation of medical instrumentation is not taking place among other issues?

 

Foresightedness of medical and other stake holders to tap readily available materials/technologies is another point. Emergence and enhancement of bio medical engineering need not be overemphasised. A Make in India Vision, #MakeinIndia and Mission 2020 is aptly the need of the hour.

 

- AK Sinha for Niti Central