Bharati Pravin Pawar,Union Minister of State for Health

Threat of pandemics far from over, need to strengthen health-based surveillance system


The threat of pandemics is far from over and the current need is to integrate surveillance systems of countries under the ”One Health” framework and strengthen it, Union Minister of State for Health Bharati Pravin Pawar said on Sunday.

”The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted that partnerships are most fruitful only when developed during peacetime and not amidst an ongoing pandemic, and that we need to focus on creating resilient health systems, with primary health as its cornerstone,” Pawar said in her address at the third G20 Health Working Group meeting here.

G Kishan Reddy, Union Minister of Tourism, S P Singh Baghel, Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, and Dr V K Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog, were present on the occasion.

Pawar further stated that the ”partnership we share as G20 members is vital and facilitates in building trust, sharing knowledge, creating networks and working together to achieve meaningful impact and results.” Pawar also highlighted the need for availability of safe, effective and quality medical countermeasures.

Stating that India’s G20 presidency is working towards building consensus for an end-to-end global medical countermeasure ecosystem, following a network of networks approach and leveraging existing global and regional initiatives, Pawar urged the leadership of G20 countries to create an interim platform which will be guided by the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) process and will feed into the same.

”Pandemics may not wait for the finalization of the Pandemic Treaty and hence, the time to act is now,” she stated.

Pawar also informed the delegates of India’s proposal of a global initiative on digital health, a WHO-managed network to converge ongoing initiatives in use of technology in the global health arena.

She stated that this initiative can enable bridging the digital divide amongst nations and ensure that the fruits of technology are made available to every citizen of the world.

Underscoring the contribution of Indian traditional knowledge systems to healthcare, G Kishan Reddy stated that “Indian traditional knowledge system propagated preventive and holistic wellbeing for all”.

He highlighted the significant impact of ayurveda and yoga across the world. He stated that “Indian civilization and cultural heritage have given us ayurveda or the science of lives which is a five-thousand-year-old medical practice.

Similarly, yoga has emerged as one of the most trusted practices to boost both physical and mental wellbeing.”

Highlighting the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make India one of the new hubs of medical value travel, the Union tourism minister said that India is home to affordable, efficient and reliable healthcare which positions the country as a go-to destination for medical value travel.

Reddy stated that India takes great pride in being a reliable partner in the noble vision of saving lives and protecting livelihoods” and highlighted the country’s recognition as the “pharmacy of the world”. He stated that Genome Valley in Hyderabad alone contributes close to 33 per cent of the world’s vaccine production.

Reddy emphasized that India is committed to achieving universal healthcare for all by 2030. He concluded his speech by stating that “there cannot be a better platform than the G20 to support, harness, and facilitate the power of universal healthcare to build a healthy and motivated world”.

Union minister Baghel noted that pandemic prevention, preparedness and response require diverse multilateral efforts.

”The recent COVID-19 pandemic taught us that only through a sustainable health system a sustainable economy can be built. Effective pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response can only be facilitated through continuous interventions in the health sector at the regional, national, and global levels,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said the Centre has taken a holistic approach to revolutionise healthcare by implementing a series of initiatives including Ayushman Bharat,.

Shah, who was in town to take part in the silver jubilee celebrations of the Kochi-based Amrita Hospital, also inaugurated two research centres under the institution.

Shah said in the last nine years, the central government has taken a holistic approach to transform healthcare with the launch of initiatives like the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Poshan Mission, Mission Indra Dhanush, Ayushman Bharat and Jal Jeevan Mission.

”In 2013-14, there were 387 medical colleges in India, compared to 648 today. The number of MBBS seats has gone up from 51,000 to 99,000, and PG seats from 31,000 to 64,000 in the same period. Also, the government has sanctioned 22 new AIIMS to be opened across the country,” he added.