India is due to begin multiple collaborative research projects in with a number of Scandinavian countries. These projects will involve work with Norway on antibiotic resistance and a project with Sweden on new ways of caring for older people.
The first of the projects will involve the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in collaboration with Forte, the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare. This project will aim to develop affordable assistive technology for disabled elderly people, focusing on home-based innovations.
The Indian private sector is seizing the opportunity to develop devices aimed at elderly care, with many recently founded companies such as “Beautiful Years”, founded in 2015, selling home care products both offline and online. The private sector is simply responding to the surge in the last decade in the over 60s population, showing an increase of 35.5 percent between 2001 and 2011. This presents a large marketing opportunity.
Where the collaborative project with Sweden differs is the government involvement in the attempt to create affordable means of care for the elderly. Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Director General, ICMR, and Secretary, Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare says that the focus will be on visual, mobility and cognitive assistance, mentioning the importance of reducing the strain on the healthcare system from a growing elderly population.
The second project in collaboration with the Research Council of Norway (RCN) will include: investigations into surveillance mechanisms for antimicrobial resistance in regards to antibiotic use in both humans and livestock; Intervention programmes designed to limit the spread of infection and improve practice guidelines within hospitals, primary care and within veterinary medicine; Treatment of infections caused by multidrug-resistant bacteria as well as studying the molecular mechanisms of drug resistance.
This project between the RCN and ICMR has been in the pipeline since an arrangement made in 2014 by the Indian Ambassador to Norway, Norman Anil Kumar Browne and Arvid Hallen, Director General of RCN.
These projects mark India’s continued efforts to expand its research presence across the world stage. This comes following previous meetings marking collaborations with Canada extending medical deals due to come into effect at the beginning of 2017.
The year may indicate India’s shift from focus on simply supplying pharmaceutical goods, to a focus of research and innovation, developing new medications and treatment strategies, many with an emphasis on low prices, a prospect that would be welcomed in India and a means of cornering new markets abroad.