Encourage patients to get COVID-19 vaccine, educate people against rumours: PM to doctors

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New Delhi, Apr 19 (PTI) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday termed vaccine as the biggest weapon in the fight against COVID-19 and urged doctors to encourage more and more patients to get the jab.

In a virtual interaction with the country's leading doctors on the pandemic situation and vaccination progress, he noted that COVID-19 is spreading rapidly in tier-two and tier-three cities this time and asked them to connect with their colleagues working there and provide online consultations to ensure all protocols are followed correctly.

In a separate meeting with leaders of the pharmaceutical industry, he commended the sector for its efforts to increase production of several necessary drugs and also for reducing the price of injections like remdesivir, according to an official statement. Seeking cooperation from the pharma industry, Modi assured them the government is undertaking reforms for new drugs and regulatory processes.

To keep the supply of medicines and essential medical equipment going smoothly, the prime minister asked the industry to ensure seamless supply chains and extended the government's support for facilities like logistics and transportation.

He urged the industry to conduct more and more researches on threats that can occur in the future along with COVID as, he said, it would help the country take a lead in combating a virus.

Urging doctors to educate people against 'rumours' on COVID treatment and prevention, Modi said it is very important in these difficult times to not become a victim of panic, according to the statement. For this, along with proper treatment, emphasis must also be on counselling of patients admitted in hospitals, Modi said and encouraged doctors to use telemedicine for the treatment of other diseases, in case there is no emergency.

The Centre has recently taken many important decisions related to the supply of essential medicines, injections and sufficient availability of oxygen. The states have been given necessary guidelines about these, he said.

Amid a massive surge in coronavirus cases across the country, some chief ministers have complained of a shortage of essentials like oxygen supply and medicines like remdesivir, and sought the Centre's intervention.

The prime minister said, 'It is due to the doctors' hard work and the nation's strategy that India was able to control the infectious disease. It is now facing a second wave. All the doctors and our frontline workers are confronting the pandemic with full force and are saving the lives of millions of people.' He also called for accelerating efforts to upgrade resources in smaller cities. The statement said at the meeting, the doctors shared their experiences in dealing with the pandemic and congratulated PM Modi on his leadership in dealing with the crisis.

They also spoke about how they are augmenting the healthcare infrastructure and reiterated the importance of people wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing.

The doctors stressed on the need for maintaining health infrastructure for non-COVID patients and said they have been sensitising patients against improper use of medicines.

In the video interaction with the pharma industry leaders, Modi appreciated their work in such trying conditions, and said it is because of their efforts that India is today identified as the 'pharmacy of the world'.

He noted that essential medicines were made available to more than 150 countries around the world during the pandemic. Despite all the challenges, the Indian pharma industry has also registered a growth of 18 per cent in exports last year, which shows its potential, he added.

The statement said pharma bigwigs appreciated the proactive help and support received from the government. They highlighted the efforts made over the last year in ensuring availability of drugs keeping manufacturing and logistics operational, they said, adding operations at the pharma hubs for manufacturing, transportation, logistics and ancillary services are being maintained at optimum levels. They also shared inputs on the measures being undertaken to meet the overall medicine demand in the country despite the unprecedented increase in demand for some drugs. The meetings were also attended by Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, his deputy Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Union Minister of Chemical and Fertilizer D V Sadananda Gowda, his deputy Mansukh Mandaviya, V K Paul, Member of NITI Aayog, and senior bureaucrats. PTI KR NSD NSD