G20 HEALTH TRACK
It is really a matter of pride for every Indian that under the leadership of the country as President of G20, the 1st G20 Health Working Group Meeting started at Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala and was inaugurated by Union Minister of State for Health & Family Welfare, Dr Bharati Pravin Pawar and Union Minister of State for External Affairs, S V Muraleedharan. The first session focuses on Best Practices in Digital Public goods and future health Emergencies Preparedness, second session brainstorms on building Robust Frameworks for ensuring availability to Safe, Effective, Quality and Affordable Medical Countermeasures. Members, guest countries and invited International Organizations are participating in the meeting.
The first day of the meeting saw multiple brainstorming sessions. The inaugural session focused on three key priorities of India’s Health Track in an elaborate manner. Dr Bharati Pravin Pawar, Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, S V Muraleedharan, Union Minister of State for External Affairs delivered the keynote addresses as the inaugural session commenced. Dr Bharati Pravin Pawar stated, “India Pandemic Policy must be a defining part of our Health Policy as any health crisis today leads to an economic crisis due to the multi-sectoral nature of our inter-connected world”. Highlighting India’s strong culture of medical practices and innovation, S V Muraleedharan noted that Prime Minister’s clarion call for ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’ is pro-planet approach, one that is in harmony with nature for an increasingly globalized world. They inaugurated an exhibition showcasing India’s innovations, success stories and strides in digital health landscape. It was followed by opening remarks by Troika Countries (Indonesia, India and Brazil). Rajesh Bhushan, Union Health Secretary highlighted the need for pandemic prevention, preparedness, response and convergence, pro-planet approach, continued focus on AMR & One Health, developing blueprint for Vaccine Therapeutics and Diagnostics (VTDs), harmonizing a global network for countries, building consensus on digital health and mobilizing fund for the same.
During the first session on ‘Health Emergencies Prevention, Preparedness and Response’, the key speakers were Dr Anders Nordstrom, Ambassador of Global Health, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sweden, Prof Vinod K Paul, Member, NITI Aayog and Dr Sylvie Briand, Director of the Pandemic and Epidemic Diseases Department, WHO Dr. Paul elaborated on CoWIN platform and other digital health interventions developed in India in past few years. Discussions during session 2 on ‘Strengthening Cooperation in Pharmaceutical Sector with Focus on Access and Availability to Safe, Effective, Quality and Affordable Medical Countermeasures’ centered around fundamental building blocks of VTDs by Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, former Chief Scientist, WHO. She elaborated on the need for effective research and development along with strengthening clinical trials. Dr. Swaminathan highlighted the gaps in R&D and manufacturing of Vaccines, Therapeutics and Diagnostics (VTDs) in LMICs (Lower and Middle Income Countries). Other important speakers included Dr. Raymond Bruce J Aylward, Senior Advisor to the DG-WHO. Dr Aylward explained the rationale for new Medical Counter Measures (MCM) platform for future pandemics, including its vision, scope and design. He stressed on the need to focus on inclusivity, transparency, timeliness and agility of the platform.