Give special status to healthcare, Food, Agri, Biotech, and Medicine: Dr. Mukherjee

Bengaluru: Pulitzer Prize winner Dr. Siddharth Mukherjee opined that it is necessary to accord special sector status to health infrastructure, food, agriculture biotechnology, and medical sciences.

Addressing the plenary session at the ‘Bengaluru Tech Summit-2021’ on Thursday, he said technologies should be made affordable and easier to use.

“It is not a joke to build a nation. The progress of a nation is measured by discoveries and research activities” he said.

Dr Mukherjee said India has made rapid strides in computer science and information technology but it is unfortunate that people are unable to afford the high cost of cancer disease treatment even as the number of patients afflicted with the disease has risen. He said it is not possible for all Indian families to visit England, US or Germany to undergo treatment for cancer and so it is necessary for investors to change their attitude.

He said immunotherapy, gene therapy, and gene editing among others are gaining traction in the treatment of cancer disease and they have been effective in treating children suffering from cancer and others suffering from myeloma, lymphoma, and breast cancer.

Dr. Mukherjee said the healthcare sector should be treated on par with nation-building. He said India should constitute a commission on the American model to elevate the healthcare sector and get the recommendations in six-eight months. The government could provide land and funds with tax breaks and cuts to expedite the process.

He said new methods have come up to treat cancer without radiotherapy and chemotherapy but they haven’t got the due recognition. He said China could achieve success so could India.
Dr. Mukherjee said he had floated nine companies in the US and had invested a huge amount to offer affordable treatment of cancer. One of the companies Vor had developed medicine to treat thalassemia which has proven to be effective using gene-editing technology.

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, chairman of the vision group on biotechnology, the government of Karnataka, moderated the discussion.