India is in a strong position to develop an effective medical countermeasures framework involving all nations to ensure drugs, vaccines and diagnostic services equitably reach the needy, a top WHO official said on Monday.
Under its G20 presidency, India has proposed a medical countermeasure coordination platform to effectively deal with challenges of any Covid-like pandemic.
Dr Michael Ryan, Executive Director at WHO Health Emergency Programme in Geneva, who is attending the third G20 Health Working Group meeting being held here from June 4 to 6, said the future of health and pandemic preparedness is stronger with the leadership of India in this meeting.
"We are discussing the pandemic preparedness and response and how to chart a future path so that we all respond better to the next pandemic.
"India in G20's leadership is highlighting this issue and talking about how we work together on medical countermeasures -- how we make better vaccines and drugs, how do we get them to people quicker, and how do we make the whole system fair so that people who really need things get them as soon as possible," Dr Ryan said, adding, "India is in a very strong position to do that." India has fantastic science-based brilliant innovation capabilities, a huge manufacturing base for pharmaceuticals as well as vaccines and it is a real global player in this regard. It's very appropriate that in this G20 presidency, India is focused on the issue, he said.
"We are enjoying the discussions with India, other countries and multi-lateral agencies who have been invited. I think the future of health preparedness and pandemic preparedness is stronger with the presence and leadership of India in this case,” Dr Ryan, who is in India for the first time to attend the meeting, said.
The third Health Working Group Meeting of G20 under India's presidency will voice the challenges of the Global South and contribute to establishing regional networks catering to vaccine therapeutics, research and manufacturing networks and the creation of a global medical countermeasures coordination platform, officials have said.
India's G20 presidency focuses on three priorities in the health track.
One of the priorities is health emergency prevention, preparedness and response with a focus on anti-microbial resistance and the One Health framework.
The other is strengthening cooperation in the pharmaceutical sector with a focus on access and availability to safe, effective, quality and affordable medical countermeasures. The third is digital health innovations and solutions to aid universal health coverage and improve healthcare service delivery.
Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan highlighted the three health priorities of India's G20 presidency and lauded the contributions of the participants.
Noting that the next pandemic will not wait for us to make a global treaty, he stated that "it is the need of the hour to ensure that the next pandemic sees us adequately prepared as billions of lives and livelihoods will be at stake hence, we must act with a sense of urgency".
He urged all the stakeholders to come together and act for "One Earth, One Family, One Future", the theme of India's G20 presidency.
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