India believes there is urgent need for major reforms in WHO: Vardhan
New Delhi: India believes there is 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, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Wednesday.
Speaking at a meeting of the health ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) countries through video-conference, he said the global crisis arising out of 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, a Health Ministry statement said here.
"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 was quoted as saying in the statement.
He said India is working extensively to increase core capacities to manage the present situation and ensure long-term interventions for mitigating any such future crisis.
The minister added, "India - like many other countries - believes that there is an urgent need for carrying out major reforms in the World Health Organisation so that we can ensure timely, focused and effective responses for potential future pandemics."
He expressed hope that the work of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, the Independent Oversight and Advisory Committee as well as the International Health Regulations Review Committees under the WHO Health Emergencies Program will be crucial in steering a direction to achieve the much-needed multilateral cooperation in the field of global health, the statement said.
He also underlined the need to prioritisation of investment in public health.
"We need to conquer the adversary with collaborations and by supplementing each other's capacities, by pooling our resources and through enhanced technical support," he stated.
Vardhan observed the coronavirus pandemic has dealt a profound blow to the SCO member states on the health and economic fronts.
He also said that India believes that besides bilateral discussions on the issue, a multilateral approach which would create an institutional framework for mobility of health workers is the need of the hour.
"For example, India is currently collaborating with Japan and discussing with the United Kingdom and other countries from the EU regarding a nursing service exchange programme," he was quoted as saying.
The need for collectively addressing methods to mitigate the global health risk and emerging threats using the 'One Health' approach was stressed upon, the statement said.
Vardhan stated, "India has started the 'Institute for One Health of International Standard' which may be leveraged to have a One Health International Hub in India which will address existing or potential risks which originate through the interface of animal-human systems."
He also informed the attendees how India has utilised digital technologies extensively for inventory management and a timely distribution of Covid vaccines.