New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday called for an integrated, inclusive and institutional global response to healthcare challenges, saying the Covid pandemic showed that borders cannot stop threats to health in a deeply-connected world.
In his virtual address to the "One Earth One Health - Advantage Healthcare India 2023", Modi said a collective response to healthcare issues is one of the focus areas during India's ongoing G20 presidency.
"Our goal is to make healthcare accessible and affordable, not only for our citizens but for the whole world," he said.
Citing an ancient Sanskrit shloka, the Prime Minister said India had believed in an inclusive vision of everyone being happy and free of diseases. Even thousands of years ago, when there were no global pandemics, India's vision for health was universal, he said.
"Today, when we say 'One Earth One Health', it is the same thought in action. Further, our vision is not restricted to just humans. It extends to our whole ecosystem. From plants to animals, from soil to rivers, when everything around us is healthy, we can be healthy," he added.
Noting that India started the journey of its G20 presidency with the theme of 'One Earth, One Family, One Future', he said it realises the importance of resilient global healthcare systems in fulfilling this vision.
He said India's goal is to make healthcare accessible and affordable, not only for its citizens but for the whole world. Reducing disparity is India's priority and serving the unserved is an article of faith for it, he said.
Health ministers of several countries besides delegates from West Asia, SAARC, ASEAN and the African region are participating in the conclave.
The meeting resonates with India's G20 presidency theme, he said, noting that hundreds of participants from many countries are attending it.
"It is great to have stakeholders from public and private sectors, from professional and academic domains. This is symbolic of the Indian philosophy of 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam' which means the world is one family," he added.
Modi said, "The once-in-a-century pandemic reminded the world of a number of truths. It showed us that in a deeply connected world, borders cannot stop threats to health. At a time of crisis, the world also saw how countries in the Global South had to face difficulties and even denial of resources." True progress, he said, is people-centric. No matter how many advances are made in medical science, access must be assured to the last person at the last mile, he said, noting that many nations during the Covid-19 realised the importance of a trusted partner in the healthcare domain.
Modi said India is proud to have been a partner to many nations in the noble mission of saving lives through vaccines and medicines. Made-In-India vaccines were developed by its vibrant science and technology sector and the country was home to the largest and fastest Covid-19 vaccination drive in the world. India also shipped 300 million doses of the vaccines to over 100 countries, underlining its capability and commitment. "We will continue to be a trusted friend to every nation that seeks good health for its citizens," he said.
He said lack of illness is often equated with good health but India's view of health does not stop at lack of illness. Being free of diseases is just a stage on the way to wellness and our goal is wellness and welfare for everyone. Our goal is physical, mental and social well-being, he said.
When it comes to holistic healthcare, India has many important strengths like talent, technology, track record and tradition. The world has seen the impact of Indian doctors as they are widely respected for their competence and commitment, he said, lauding the services of the country's nurses and other caregivers.
"There are many healthcare systems across the world that benefit from the talent of Indian professionals. India has tremendous diversity in culture, climate and social dynamics. Healthcare professionals trained in India are exposed to diverse experiences. This helps them develop skills that can meet the needs of different situations. This is why Indian healthcare talent has won the world's trust," he said.
India's outlook towards health has been holistic since ancient times and it has a great tradition of preventive and promotive health, he said, noting that yoga and meditation have now become "global movements". They are ancient India's gifts to the modern world, he said.
Its ayurveda system is similarly a complete discipline of wellness, taking care of the physical and mental aspects of health, he said. "The world is looking for solutions to stress and lifestyle diseases. India's traditional healthcare systems hold a lot of answers. Our traditional diet which consists of millets can also help with food security and nutrition," he added.
Apart from talent, technology, track record and tradition, India has a healthcare system that is affordable and accessible, Modi noted.
"This can be seen in our efforts at home. India has the world's largest Government funded health insurance coverage scheme. The Ayushman Bharat initiative covers over 500 million people with free medical treatments. Over 40 million people have already availed services in a cashless and paperless manner. This has saved nearly 7 billion dollars for our citizens already," he said.