Capacity building for Health Technology Assessment in India: strengthening foundations for evidence-informed priority setting

By Laura Downey Jul. 2, 2018

iDSI is providing technical assistance to build essential capacity in the generation and utilisation of evidence to ensure the best value from every rupee spent in the Indian health system.

This comes as the government of India has committed to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and Universal Health Coverage by 2030.

Setting the right priorities to maximise value of health spending in India towards achievement of UHC will require a robust mechanism to comparatively assess available evidence according to a well-governed, inclusive, transparent and fair process. In almost all high income and most middle-income countries, Health Technology Assessment (HTA) is the gold standard of such evidence-informed priority setting.

The government of India has committed to institutionalising HTA as a core component of decision making in health, in line with a growing momentum for countries to adopt HTA as an integral component of health priority-setting. The Department of Health Research (DHR), under the Ministry of Health and family welfare, has recently established HTAIn – a team charged with the responsibility of conducting HTA to produce evidence regarding the cost-effectiveness of health interventions to inform resource allocation decisions across the Indian health system.

Union Minister for Science and Technology Harsh Vardhan: said: “It is essential to assess, through an evidence-based approach, whether a particular technology can impact disease management, prevention strategies and policy decisions. This is possible through health technology assessment studies”

Under the auspices of HTAIN, the DHR has established a network of HTA Regional Resource Hubs in collaboration with various State Government-affiliated Institutes. These hubs will provide technical support towards the National HTA effort, as well as to local State government requirements. As HTA is nascent to India, staff of these HTA resource hubs will need to undertake significant training in health economics and cost effectiveness analysis in order to conduct HTA for the HTAIn. This requirement for capacity building was recognised by Mr Vardhan who said: “There should be collaborative teaching programmes with faculty from both medical and engineering institutions for manpower generation and skill development in health care technology assessment.”

iDSI have partnered with the DHR under an agreement to provide technical capacity building support for HTA Resource Hubs across India in order to bridge this capacity gap and build a cadre of skilled health economists equipped with the knowledge and skills to undertake HTA. A number of HTA skill building workshops have been held to date in Delhi, Kerala, and Chandigarh.

The next workshop will be held in Delhi from 4-6 July, where facilitators from iDSI, the HTAIN and PGIMER. Chandigarh will hold the first of four skill building workshops for the recently established HTAIN Technical Resource Hubs.
iDSI will continue to support this exciting National effort led by the DHR and the HTAIN, which represents not only an international collaboration, but a collaboration between complex networks of institutions from all over India.