India to lead polio-free SAARC initiative

SAARC_2367304fIndia’s Union Minister for Health and Family welfare J P Nadda emphasized the need to eradicate polio in South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) nations and work together to promote health awareness, prevent disease, and move towards universal healthcare coverage.

Chairing the fifth meeting of Health Ministers of SAARC nations in New Delhi, Mr Nadda extended India’s help to make the region polio-free. The SAARC member countries noted that they had several common public health concerns and should work collaboratively to resolve them, and that India should be taking the lead in this matter, owing to more experience and resources. Mr Nadda also flagged anti-microbial resistance (also known as antibiotic resistance or drug resistance) as a growing concern for SAARC countries.

The Health Ministers also met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and apprised him of health challenges. Mr Modi stressed on the collection and sharing of best practices in the modern medicine and healthcare. A suggestion was made for joint visits of places of research being done at grassroots level in this regard, in SAARC countries. Indian sponsored resolution at the UN to adopt 21st June as International Yoga Day was lauded, and benefits of Yoga in preventive healthcare were noted.

Some of the health issues that were discussed were prevention and control of communicable and non-communicable diseases, disease surveillance network, and health infrastructure, human resource for health, immunizations, HIV/AIDS and mental health. The primary agenda of the meeting was to find out strategies and implement best practices to provide a disease free life to citizens of the SAARC countries.

The fourth SAARC Health Minister’s meet had been held in Mauritius in 2012.

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