Need to focus on creating effective health systems for improved pandemic preparedness: Dr. Harsh Vardhan

There is a need to focus on creating effective health systems for improved pandemic preparedness and while all the other action plans are a response to a pandemic, a well-developed healthcare system can support even in containing the pandemic, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Indian Health Minister said while addressing Joint G20 Finance and Health Ministers Meeting. 

Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Government of India attended Joint G20 Finance and Health Ministers Meeting through video conference on Thursday. Saudi Arabia bestowed with the Presidency of G20 grouping hosted the session. He extolled the virtues of investing in public health, an approach already underway in India under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“Flattening the curve globally will require international, multisectoral collaborative efforts to ensure that health systems across the world are able to maintain sufficient capacity to address the flux of complicated COVID-19 cases and protect the vulnerable and elderly in the world population, Dr Vardhan said. 

“There is a need to ensure that access to COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines is fair and equitable. Access to protection should not be a factor of ability to pay,” he added. 

It was also emphasised that India, with a history of frugal and quality manufacturing, will continue to play its role through its Make-In-India and Make-for the World endeavour and will support fully the development of research and digital capabilities for managing delivery.

This is also a time for decisive public health leadership and for preparing for future waves and the post-COVID-19 era. The Minister urged India urged that public health leaders must look beyond borders. Only by learning from the global experience in our battle against a virus that respects no borders. “We need to honour the lives already lost and implement life-saving measures for current and future patients, “he emphasised. 

Inspired by experiences of previous outbreaks such as SARS in 2003 and Ebola in 2014–2015, global solidarity is a must in order to prevent further morbidity and mortality. Examples in leadership and collaborations should be celebrated as examples to follow. Open communication and transparency will be crucial in monitoring the evolution of the disease in the global effort of flattening the curve.

India is committed to Universal Healthcare Coverage and in these stressful times. It was conveyed to the G20 Finance and Health Ministers that India stands together with the world to realize the shared mission to save lives and protect people’s health, and to re-energize the global economy at the earliest.