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Foreign investment – the opportunity Indian healthcare needs?

Foreign investors could be the agents of change for India’s rapidly evolving, yet often neglected, healthcare sector.

The U.S. based Aetna International is one of several companies to recently announce plans to commit new resources into the market.

The Fortune 100 company has pledged Rs 100 crore (US$15 million) to be invested into its New Delhi-based subsidiary Indian Health Organisation (IHO) over three years – in what Forbes India called “a bid to strengthen its presence in the domestic market and ramp up its focus on providing quality healthcare to the masses.”

Aetna International President Richard di Benedetto described India as “a key market” with “tremendous scope for growth in the healthcare sector.” Stating “affordability and accessibility are key challenges”, di Benedetto expressed hope that Aetna’s “products and services…will bring healthier days to millions.”

He emphasised that the company’s priority was “healthcare services where we see opportunities for growth” – stressing that that insurance, whilst not wholly off the cards, “is not a priority now.”

Aetna is not the only American entity to expand its efforts in India.

The Economic Times has reported that multinational conglomerate General Electric – also a Fortune 100 company – will double its investment in the country through its healthcare arm.

It is reportedly aiming for a revenue of Rs 5,000 crore (US$750 million) this year and $1 billion by the year 2020 – taking advantage of “strong double digit growth” in the Indian market against a backdrop of global uncertainty. It is also working to develop a training programme in collaboration with Tata Trusts. The programme will provide training for 10,000 students (at an estimated cost of Rs 86,000 per student) over three years.

GE currently operates ten education centres in India

Meanwhile, Business Line reports that the Singapore based private equity form Quadria Capital is lining up an investment fund of close to $10 million for Indian hospitals, pharma and other healthcare service providers.

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