Bill Gates calls on Vardhan, health ministry signs MoC with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

New Delhi, Nov 18 (PTI) Bill Gates, the co-chair of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), on Monday called on Health Minister Harsh Vardhan and they presided over the signing of an Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) between the Health Ministry and the foundation.

Under the MoC, the Gates Foundation will provide technical, management and program design support through its grantees and other partners, with a special focus on innovation, best practices and enhancing performance management, while working closely with the Indian government, an official statement said.

The foundation will support the Health Ministry's work towards strengthening the primary health aspects such as reducing maternal and child mortality, improving nutrition services and increasing the immunization reach.

Efforts will be made to increase access to family planning measures among younger women and reduce the burden of select infectious diseases like tuberculosis, visceral leishmaniasis and lymphatic filariasis.

The work will also include strengthening of supply chains and monitoring systems while focusing on budget utilization, management and skills of human resources for health, ultimately bolstering the entire health system, the statement stated.

The MoC was signed by Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary (International Health) from the ministry and M Hari Menon, Director of India Country Office, BMGF.

At the meeting, Vardhan highlighted the strides being taken by the government in providing universal health coverage to its citizens and the contribution of Ayushman Bharat with its pillars of health and wellness centres and Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojna, noteworthy gains in reduction of maternal and child mortality among others.

'Our association with Gates Foundation has been a long and fruitful one, be it for polio eradication or increasing immunisation coverage. However, now is the time to work together for providing Universal Health Coverage (UHC) to all our countrymen with an effective and quality-driven primary healthcare system.

'We recognise the importance of adopting innovative approaches that will not only address the gaps in the system but also build on all that we have achieved so far,' Vardhan said.

Supporting the initiatives undertaken by the Health Ministry, Gates said, 'The Ministry of Health has put forward an ambitious vision to improve the primary healthcare system in this country – especially for women and children. Our foundation supports that goal, and we want to partner with India to achieve it. That's why we are very happy to sign this Memorandum of Cooperation today.' PTI PLB AAR