Health Ministry signs MoC with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

New Delhi [India], Nov 18 (ANI): The Health Ministry on Monday signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) under which the latter would provide technical, management and program design support through its grantees and other partners.

The MoC was signed following a meeting between Philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan here, a release by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare read.

Under the MoC, the foundation would support the Ministry's work towards strengthening the primary health aspects such as reducing maternal and child mortality, improving nutrition services and increasing the immunisation reach. Efforts will be made to increase access to family planning measures amongst younger women and reduce the burden of select infectious diseases, such as Tuberculosis, Visceral Leishmaniasis, Lymphatic Filariasis.

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

The MoC was signed by Lav Agarwal, the Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and M Hari Menon Director at the India Country Office of the BMGF.

Commenting on the MoC, Vardhan said that the ministry recognises the importance of adopting innovative approaches that will not only address the gaps in the system but also build on all that it has achieved so far. He emphasised that the MoC with the Gates Foundation will be mutually beneficial and the ministry looks forward to working with the foundation and leveraging their expertise in supporting MoHFW's efforts towards strengthening its health systems.

Vardhan highlighted the strides being taken by India in providing Universal Health Coverage (UHC) to its citizens and the contribution of Ayushman Bharat with its pillars of Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs) and Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY), as well as the noteworthy gains in reduction of maternal and child mortality, expanding the coverage of full immunisation, and achievements in sectors such as TB, ambitious steps in digital health through the National Digital Blueprint framework.

Supporting the initiatives undertaken by the Health Ministry, Mr. Bill 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." (ANI)