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India has capacity score of 86% to detect, assess, report and respond to health emergencies: health secretary

Union Health Secretary Apurva Chandra addressed the Plenary Session of the 77th World Health Assembly of WHO in Geneva on Wednesday. His speech centered on India’s strides in healthcare, global collaborations, and commitments to achieving universal health coverage.

Chandra drew parallels between this year’s theme, “All for Health, Health for All,” and the timeless Indian ethos of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, which translates to “the world is one family.” He explained that under this overarching theme, India introduced Ayushman Bharat, or “Live Long India,” as a vehicle to advance Universal Health Coverage, achieved through the establishment of over 160,000 Health and Wellness Centres, known as Ayushman Aarogya Mandir.

The health minister pointed out India’s core capacity score of 86% to detect, assess, report and and respond to any health emergencies, which exceeds the Southeast Asia region and global average, as per WHO SPAR report.

He also lauded India’s progress in reducing maternal and infant mortality rates, achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), nearing the elimination of Visceral Leishmaniasis (VL) disease, and reducing Tuberculosis (TB) incidence and mortality.

The health secretary spotlighted the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY) as the world’s largest health assurance scheme, providing significant health coverage to millions of beneficiaries and reducing out-of-pocket expenditures. He highlighted India’s strides in digital healthcare initiatives, positioning India as a global leader in digital public goods.

Emphasising equitable access to medical countermeasures as a fundamental right, Chandra noted India’s substantial contribution to global vaccine supply. He expressed India’s commitment, in collaboration with WHO, to strengthen the drug regulatory system for quick access to high-quality medical products globally.

Furthermore, the health secretary underlined India’s expertise in healthcare, offering compassionate care and emerging as a key destination for medical value tourism. He announced India’s new visa regime – Ayush Visa, aimed at promoting medical tourism under Ayush systems of medicine.

Chandra also urged member countries to prioritise health and well-being for sustainable development. He called for collective commitment and collaboration to create a brighter future for all.

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