Despite its own needs, India ensured supply of medicines to 123 partner countries: Vardhan

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New Delhi, May 27 (PTI) India ensured supply of medicines to 123 partner countries despite its own needs amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and has also been active in global efforts to develop “diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines” to tackle the infection, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Thursday.

He was speaking during a virtual interaction with health ministers of NAM (Non-Aligned Movement) countries. Tedros, Director-General, World Health Organisation was also present in the meeting.

Reiterating that India shall always strive for the 'health of all', Vardhan said, “Despite its own needs, during the COVID-19 pandemic, we ensured supply of medicines to 123 partner countries, including 59 NAM nations. India has also been active in global efforts to develop diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines for COVID-19 because we know and understand that no one is safe until everyone is safe.” He said India has adopted transformative strategies and fast-tracked many initiatives aimed at all the core tenets of Universal Health Coverage like strengthening health systems, including primary healthcare, improving access to free drugs and diagnostics, and reducing catastrophic healthcare spending.

“India is moving towards Universal Healthcare for All which means every citizen of India must get world quality treatment facilities. Full immunisation coverage is increasing at a rapid pace with a greater emphasis on village-based micro-plans as we aim to enhance coverage to 90 per cent in a year,” an official statement quoted the health minister as saying.

Speaking about India's ambitious National Health Policy, he noted, “Our flagship health initiative called Ayushman Bharat aims at providing free health assurance to over 500 million underprivileged people, making it the world's largest health assurance scheme.

“And we dream of making this scheme much bigger, ensuring it for every Indian! If a developing nation like India can dream of this level of 'health for all' policy, I think the rest of the world has to think even beyond this,” he said.

He, however, expressed concern over the current pandemic that has demonstrated the vulnerability of humankind to exigencies and underlined the need to act with greater speed and predictability.

“We need an aggressive roadmap to curtail deaths from diseases that can be eliminated. We need a fresh roadmap to address shortages of medicines and vaccines. Our motto should always be to protect the health of those without wealth…,” the minister added.

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