New Delhi, April 20: Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has said the coronavirus situation seems overwhelming once again but expressed his optimism that “with our ‘whole of government’ and ‘whole of society’ approach, we shall once again overcome the challenges posed by the recent wave of this pandemic”.
Vardhan made these remarks at the Next Gen Health Summit ‘Re-Imagine Healthcare’, organised by the IMC Chamber of Commerce and Industry, through a recorded video message on Tuesday, according to a Health Ministry statement.
Vardhan said while COVID-19 has laid bare the many fallacies in health systems across the globe, it has also brought health at the centre-stage of public policy making.
“Affordability and accessibility will be key to establishing a healthcare system which can withstand shocks such as the current pandemic,” he said.
Highlighting the government’s efforts towards improving the overall well-being of the society at large, Vardhan said, “Many of the government’s programmes are already working on these facets of healthcare. Our ambitious Ayushman Bharat programme is the largest health assurance scheme in the world striving to deliver universal health coverage while also promoting holistic health through its network of over 75,000 Ayushman Bharat-Health and Wellness Centres across the nation.”
“We intend to further expand this number to 1,50,000 by the end of year 2022,” he said.
He also added that our Fit India, Swachh Bharat, Eat Right India programmes have enjoyed huge success in building mass public movements around health and wellbeing.”
The minister also appreciated the collaborative efforts of all the stakeholders and stated that it is because of them that the world’s largest vaccination drive going on in the country has been progressing at a rapid pace.
“We have been the fastest in the world to administer more than 13 crore doses,” he was quoted as saying in the statement.
He also mentioned about the decisions taken on Monday at a meeting headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi adding that all citizens above the age of 18 shall now be eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19 from May 1, 2021. This will further accelerate the pace of our vaccine drive while incentivizing existing and new players to ramp up production in the country.
Vardhan also assured the delegates that despite the grave challenge posed by COVID-19, we are much better prepared today than we were in 2020 and we are doing everything we can to bring it under control with timely steps to break the chain of transmission and expand the vaccination drive across the country.
He further reminded the audience that while we continue to deal with this grave challenge, we must also work towards our larger goal of preventing, tackling and being better prepared for another health crisis of such magnitude in the future. (PTI)