New Delhi: Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare virtually participated in a meeting with Ministers of Health of the NAM (Non-Aligned Movement) Countries, today. Dr. Tedros, Director-General of the World Health Organisation was also present in the meeting.
At the outset, Dr Harsh Vardhan thanked the chair Mr. Teymur Musayev, Minister of Health of the Republic of Azerbaijan for organizing this conference and giving India an opportunity to meet, even if it is virtually, to continue its collaboration in ensuring the right to health for all our citizens.
Accentuating how India overcame the challenges of the ongoing pandemic with the highest level of political commitment under the able and visionary leadership of the Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, Dr Harsh Vardhan said, “We ensured a pre-emptive, proactive and graded response to the pandemic. In the last meeting of NAM, our Prime Minister had expressed India’s solidarity with not just the NAM countries, but the entire world, expressing our belief in the doctrine and philosophy of Vasudhaiv Kuṭumbakam (वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम्) which means the whole world is one family.”
Reiterating that India shall always strive for the health of all, the Union Health Minister said, “Despite its own needs, during the COVID-19 pandemic, we ensured supply of medicines to 123 partner countries including 59 NAM nations. India has also been active in global efforts to develop diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines for Covid-19, because we know and understand that NO ONE IS SAFE UNTIL EVERYONE IS SAFE.”
He said that to strengthen Universal Health Coverage, India has adopted transformative strategies and fast-tracked many initiatives aimed at all the core tenets of Universal Health Coverage like strengthening health systems including primary healthcare, improving access to free drugs and diagnostics and reducing catastrophic healthcare spending. The Health Minister said, “India is moving towards Universal Healthcare for All which means every citizen of India must get world quality treatment facilities. Full immunization coverage is increasing at a rapid pace with a greater emphasis on village-based micro-plans as we aim to enhance coverage to 90% in a year.”
Speaking about India’s ambitious National Health Policy that aims at Universal Health for All, Dr Harsh Vardhan said, “Our flagship health initiative called Ayushman Bharat aims at providing free health assurance to over 500 million underprivileged people, making it the world’s largest health assurance scheme. And we dream of making this scheme much bigger, ensuring it for every Indian! If a developing nation like India can dream of this level of ‘health for all’ policy. I think the rest of the world has to think even beyond this.”
Expressing concern over the current pandemic that has demonstrated the vulnerability of humankind to exigencies and recognising that we have to strive to act with greater speed and predictability, the Union Health Minister noted, “We need an aggressive roadmap to curtail deaths from diseases that can be eliminated. We need a fresh roadmap to address shortages of medicines and vaccines. Our motto should always be to protect the health of those without wealth. I’m sure you all share the same sentiment.”
In conclusion, Dr Harsh Vardhan said, “India is committed to working with all NAM Member States for the efficient, effective and responsive discharge of public health obligations. Let us work as partners towards an enlightened, inclusive and cooperative global response. I am confident that Non-Aligned Movement nations will emerge stronger and more resilient in all spheres of public health.”