As the World Health Day 2021 marks over a year of battling the COVID pandemic together by the global community, Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan reiterated the government’s commitment towards “building a fairer and healthier world”.
Dr Harsh Vardhan was addressing the WHO South East Asia Regional Office on the occasion of World Health Day on Wednesday through a video conference.
“I would like to reaffirm on behalf of the Government of India, our commitment to ensure all people and communities have access to quality healthcare services, where and when they are required, without suffering financial hardship and move towards building a fairer, healthier World,” the health minister said.
This year theme, ‘building a fairer and healthier world for everyone’, could not have been more appropriate, he said.
“It falls on all of us to collectively make sure that our policies, programmes and actions are guided towards a healthier future for all… It has become increasingly evident that the health of a population is fundamentally dependent on fair access to social goods and services within the society. Health equity and social justice are interlinked,” he said.
The health minister also said that the past year has brought home the need to ensure universal access to healthcare services, spanning from preventive to curative for each and every citizen, irrespective of their socio-economic status.
“This event organized today is a joint commitment of this Ministry and WHO towards building a resilient health system which ensures ‘Health for All’,” he said.
“Providing universal health coverage, based upon a strong foundation of primary healthcare services ensures people have access to comprehensive care, ranging from promotive and preventive to treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care,” he said, highlighting the Ayushman Bharat programme and the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana.
The Ayushman Bharat programme endeavours establishment of 150,000 Health and Wellness Centres to deliver Comprehensive Primary Health Care while also focusing on health promotion, disease prevention, and multi-sectoral actions for social development in which citizens are active participants. The Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana which provides cashless cover of Rs 5 lakh per family per year for secondary and tertiary care.
“We need to take even more concerted and focused actions to address inequities to build a healthier India and on similar lines a healthier world,” he said, adding that the WHO has issued the call to work together, collect reliable data, tackle inequities and act beyond borders.
The minister also said, “COVID-19 vaccines being made in India are being shared with over 80 countries through our vaccine maitri initiative, a key step towards addressing inequities in vaccine distribution across the world. We should not let go to waste the lessons learnt from COVID19 that have resulted in far reaching changes in health policies”.
“From effective public risk communication to ensuring provision of non-COVID essential health services, to speedy access to vaccines, India and the global community have shown that effective partnerships along with a purposive focus on reaching the most disadvantaged help remove access barriers, taking us closer to Universal Health Coverage,” the minister added, according to a release by the Union Health Ministry.