A clear vision for India: cataracts HTA study sets example for a more cost-effective National Health Protection Scheme

By Laura Downey Aug. 13, 2018

The Health Technology Assessment in India (HTAIN) Secretariat has published its first Health Technology Assessment study, assessing the cost-effectiveness of intraocular lens replacement for cataracts.

Following approval by the Technical Appraisal Committee, this pioneering study will inform the ophthalmology surgical packages reimbursable under the new National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS), which is set to provide healthcare coverage for over 500 million Indian citizens.

The study identified phacoemulsification with foldable lenses as the most cost-effective intervention for lens replacement for cataracts in India compared to other available options such as small incision surgery, with an incremental cost effectiveness ratio of 3862.79 rupees per quality adjusted life year (QALY) gained. Cataracts account for ~70% of all blindness in India, so enhancing cost-effective management of the disease in the country will have a positive impact on many millions of Indian citizens.

iDSI partners Imperial College London and HITAP Thailand provided technical assistance to the HTAIN by providing hands-on training and practical skill building workshops, technical advice and assistance, and guidance in aspects such as how to identify and engage with stakeholders.

The intraocular lens HTA in India is a significant step forward for evidence-informed priority setting in India; and sets a strong example for other countries in the region to follow. Indeed, where it took 15 years to link HTA to prospective payment for secondary care in the UK under the National Health Service, the Government of India have seamlessly bridged the translation of HTA evidence into policy in one fell swoop. By using this kind of information to update and refine the benefit package offered under the NHPS, the Government can be assured of enhancing value for money of every rupee spent on the scheme – setting a strong precedent for scale and diffusion from the Centre for State governments to follow.

Many congratulations to the HTAIN team and all those involved in the study – a truly impressive feat!