Prof Vivekanand Jha: Transforming healthcare in India

Professor Vivekanand Jha is the Executive Director of The George Institute for Global Health, India, and Professor of Nephrology and John Martin Professorial Fellow at the University of Oxford.

What’s The George Institute, India focused on?

The George Institute, India is focused on developing high-quality evidence to improve healthcare delivery at the bottom of the ‘pyramid’ and reduce premature death and disability. We’re working to change policy, improve stakeholder communication across the health system, and develop models of care that apply to other resource-poor settings.

What are the health challenges in India?

The biggest health challenge facing India is delivering evidence-based healthcare with consistent quality to reduce the major causes of death and disability.

How is our research in India addressing this?

By developing and implementing new ways to deliver healthcare and using innovations in technology and workforce (e.g. task sharing between doctors and non-physicians) to develop sustainable, affordable and scalable models of healthcare delivery.

What is an example flagship project?

Our SMARThealth approach uses an electronic decision support system in a clinical setting to help detect, refer and follow up patients at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes and mental health. It’s being run by community based, non- physician healthcare workers, in close collaboration with doctors in remote Andhra Pradesh, along with the state government.

I see the biggest strengths of the Institute as…

Being able to draw on a global research talent pool to address local challenges, using the best available research methodologies, and influencing policy changes based on research.

What are the biggest health challenges facing the global community?

Ensuring there are mechanisms to deliver healthcare equitably, shifting some primary care roles from physicians to non-physician workers, and developing scalable healthcare delivery models.

How can India help?

India possesses the ideal combination of the right skill sets and testing environments to generate innovative and disruptive models of healthcare delivery, and evaluate their scalability and affordability in real life situations. Such models can be replicated with some modifications in countries with similar healthcare challenges.

What are some of the growth priorities over the next 5 years?

Expanding our ambit of research into more areas such as women’s health and other disadvantaged populations; and training early and mid-career researchers to deal with the most pressing global health challenges, providing career pathways to develop their own programs of research.

What if money wasn’t an issue?

I’d like to develop an integrated model of patient-centred healthcare delivery to tackle the top 10 causes of premature death and disability in India, linking such a system to funding mechanisms (for example, a micro-insurance scheme) and to the hospital system. 


Originally published in The George Institute for Global Health 2014-15 Annual Report