India stresses more funds, vaccine collaboration at WHA meet

Addressing a two-day virtual summit of the World Health Assembly (WHA), Union Health & Family Welfare Minister Harsh Vardhan has said that “global collaboration is paramount” against the pandemic, and as such, the world should allocate more financial resources and boost partnership in vaccine development that would benefit the entire humanity, regardless of where they were developed. “Today, I urge upon all governments, industry, and philanthropy to prioritize the long-term and pool their resources, to ensure everyone benefits,” Mr Vardhan said at the conference that began on May 18. WHA President Ms Keva Bain convened its first-ever virtual meeting, with delegates of the member countries, and WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in attendance.

“We should share our learning from how each one of us has tackled this catastrophe since January, how we can support the financial or technical gaps that some of our member states may have, and agree to continue R&D aggressively and collaboratively,” he said. “India undertook the COVID-19 challenge with the highest level of political commitment. Our Prime Minister, Mr Narendra Modi, personally monitored the situation and ensured a pre-emptive, pro-active, and graded response, leaving no stone unturned to contain the deadly virus from spreading,” he added.

Detailing the steps, he said that the government has launched disease surveillance both at entry-points and within the community, while evacuation of stranded nationals from overseas, strengthening of health infrastructure, capacity-building of over two million frontline human resources, risk communication, as well as community involvement continue as part of the anti-COVID measures. Mr Vardhan informed the gathering that India is playing a key role in fostering bilateral and regional partnerships under the abled leadership of PM Modi. The country has supplied essential medicines, therapeutic and diagnostic tools to 123 nations as a token of solidarity. “I think we did our best and we did well. We are learning and we are confident of doing better in the months to come,” he added.

He welcomed the efforts to make international institutions more reflective of the 21st-century realities and said that India will stand with such efforts to foster meaningful and broad-based change.

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