Innovations key for health sector: Speakers at IIT-H Foundation Day

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IIT-Hyderabad
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Sangareddy: Speakers at the 12th Foundation Day programme of the Indian Institute of Technology-Hyderabad (IIT-H) on Sunday underlined the importance of integrating medical and engineering faculties to facilitate innovations that the health sector needs. The experts further observed that researchers in India responded well to the challenges thrown by Covid-19 by coming up with numerous innovations within a short span of time.

Addressing the virtual foundation day of IIT-H, Padma Bhushan awardee and Chairman of Asian Institute of Gastroenterology (AIG) Dr D Nageshwar Reddy said that engineering and medical faculties were maintaining physical and social distancing, a problem that exists across the world, and observed that the institutes such as John Hopkins University, Stanford University and Singapore University were seeing exceptional results through integration of medical and engineering departments.

Pointing out that IIT-Hyderabad had achieved commendable progress within a short period of time, the AIG Chairman said they too had an opportunity to associate with the institute when they set up CfHE (Centre for Healthcare and Entrepreneurship) three years ago. Stating that several CfHE incubatees were coming up with several products to meet the needs of the health sector, he said the students coming out of IIT-H were joining the CfHE and making a lot of difference in the health sector with their innovations.

Dr Reddy said that IIT-H came up with several innovations which they were associated with, especially in the age of Covid-19. Though innovators across the world were coming up with inventions, he said it would be very difficult to use them here since they are expensive. “Unless we come up with our own innovations, India will fall behind the world,” he said, adding that while some believe that Covid-19 was a setback to the health sector, it was actually the contrary.

“Covid-19 has dramatically advanced sciences. The development of vaccines and diagnostic tests, which used to take years, were developed in just months or weeks’ time. Bioinformatics and Artificial Intelligence are developing very rapidly in the Covid times,” he said, adding that application of AI could bring about dramatic difference not only in diagnosis but also in therapy. He said these two disciplines would be the mainstay in developing antibodies.

He observed that the challenges thrown by Covid-19 were a great opportunity to work on for youngsters.

Echoing Dr Nageshwar Reddy, Dr G Satheesh Reddy, Chairman, Defense Research Development Organisation (DRDO), Secretary, Department of Research and Development, and Director General, Aeronautical Development Agency, said many health sector innovations were engineering solutions. “Bio-medical engineering is one of the most important fields today,” he said, adding that the country was capable of coming up with bio-medical products.

“It is time for doctors and biomedical engineers to join hands to come up with some disruptive technologies. They need to meet the needs of India and also export them to make the nation prosperous. We can make products that are being imported at one fifth of its cost here in India,” he said. Stating that Covid-19 pushed us to the wall, Dr Satheesh Reddy said scientists in India had responded well. “The country used to produce 37,000 PPEs earlier, and now we are producing 6 lakh PPEs every day. We hae the capacity to produce another 10 to 15 lakh PPEs a day. We have come up with the latest ventilators, masks and several other technologies within a short time,” he said.

In view of Covid-19 outbreak, the IIT-H announced the convocation medals to all the students who passed out from the premiere institute during the summer. They also announced best faculty, staff, researchers and students awards on the occasion. However, the institute said they would probably hold the convocation in December.

Jayesh Ranjan, Principal Secretary, Information and Technology Ministry, IIT-H Director Prof BS Murty, Chairman of Board of Governors BVR Mohan Reddy and others were present.


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