- From just 1 lab initially, the country has over 1,200 labs for COVID-19 now
- Mass screenings underway for non-communicable diseases like cancer
- India can help Australia in researching new medicines: Health Minister
New Delhi: India’s medical professionals, paramedics and scientists have played a pivotal role in containing COVID-19 and they are helping in drug discovery and in repurposing of existing drugs, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said. They have also isolated the virus in the early onset of diseases and are engaged in studying the virus using genome sequencing, Dr. Vardhan told his Australian counterpart Gregory Andrew Hunt, during a discussion on bilateral health cooperation on Tuesday.
From just one lab to test the virus in January, India now has more than 1,200 labs all across the country facilitating the people in widespread testing, he said.
India’s drug manufacturers have also enabled India to supply hydroxychloroquine to 140 countries, Dr. Vardhan was quoted as saying in the Health Ministry statement. Dr. Vardhan had a digital interaction with Hunt over an MoU India and Australia had signed on cooperation in the field of health and medicine on April 10, 2017, the ministry said. The MoU covers areas of mutual interest like the management of communicable diseases like malaria and tuberculosis, mental health, and non-communicable diseases, antimicrobial resistance, regulation of pharmaceuticals, vaccines and medical devices and digitisation of health infrastructure. The MoU also covers response to public health emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the outset, Dr. Vardhan expressed deep admiration for Hunt for his organisation of charity events like a 5-km run for children suffering for autism and raising awareness on juvenile diabetes, according to the statement. While Australia has one of the best healthcare systems of the developed world, healthcare in India is one of the fastest-growing sectors, which is expected to hit USD 275 billion mark in the next 10 years, Dr. Vardhan said.
India’s domestic demand is expected to engine the growth regardless of any turbulence in the global economy, the health minister said.
India also offers vast opportunities in research and development and medical tourism, he said. “India’s traditional holistic medical systems like Ayurveda and yoga can help Australia curb obesity and related diseases. Dr. Vardhan elaborated on “health as a social movement” approach of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. India’s universal healthcare coverage under Ayushman Bharat covers a massive 100 million families and 10 million individuals have benefitted in the last year alone, Dr. Vardhan said.
He added that the country was committed to eliminating TB by 2025 and it had also undertaken efforts for mass screening of non-communicable diseases like hypertension, cancer of breast, lung, throat and mouth. He added that “whole of government” perspective enabled financial inclusion of 40 crore people and transformed their access to healthcare Hunt spoke of the trust Prime Minister Narendra Modi espouses in the international community, the statement said. Australia’s universal telemedicine has helped tackle 19 million cases, so far, he stated.
“Its focus on health infrastructure through public and private hospitals and approach on mental health issues are models worth emulating,” he said.
Acknowledging India’s huge role in supplying inexpensive generic drugs, he explained how India could help Australia in researching new medicines for rare diseases using genomics and stem cell technology. The health ministers agreed to continue to jointly work in the area of health and other common interests, the statement said.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.