Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare addressed a meeting with Ministers of Health of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) countries through video-conference on June 30.
During the meeting Dr Vardhan said that, India believes in an urgent need for carrying out “major reforms” in the World Health Organization to ensure a timely, focused and effective response to potential future pandemics.
He reminded everyone that it has been more than18 months since COVID-19 was declared a Public Health Emergency of international concern and it has shaken the entire world.
“Therefore, it is desirable that we should continue to exchange our experiences, learnings, best practices as well as innovations to strengthen our public health systems,” he said.
He said that the global crisis arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic is further compounded by ever-evolving new variants of the virus, and highlighted the need for greater collaboration between countries on various aspects of health to defeat it.
He also emphasized how the Indian traditional system of medicine has contributed substantially in boosting the immunity of the general population during COVID-19.
“It is important that such rich traditional knowledge of medicines and treatment needs to be integrated into the modern healthcare system through investments at different levels not only as a response to COVID-19 but also to enhance the public health system. Under the able leadership of our Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, India had proposed the setting up of an Expert Working Group on Traditional Medicine under the existing institutional framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. A Draft to this effect was also circulated last year. I take this opportunity to propose that we should hold a meeting soon to discuss and finalize the modalities of the Expert Working Group. This should be done on a war footing so that we may set up the expert group much ahead of the meeting next year,” he said.
He also underlined the need to prioritisation of investment in public health.
He concluded his speech by reminding his audience of the centuries-old historic linkages between the SCO nations connected by geography and enriched by links of culture, cuisine and commerce: “I call upon all of you today to remind each other of this bedrock of our modern-day relationship. It is for the sake of this ages-old friendship that we all must stand together and work for each other’s betterment and for the betterment of the SCO region. Only shared responsibilities and shared idealism will help us achieve these shared goals.”