Dr Mansukh Mandaviya, Minister of Health & Family Welfare, addressed the BRICS Health Ministers Meeting 2023 on the side-lines of the World Health Assembly in Geneva. The meeting brought together health ministers from BRICS member countries- Brazil, China, Russia, and South Africa.
Dr Mandaviya extended his heartfelt congratulations to South Africa for prioritizing the agenda of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) through the theme of “Bridging the Gap on Sustainable Health on the road to UHC 2023.” This theme aligns with the overall theme of BRICS 2023, “Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development, and Inclusive Multilateralism,” which aims to catalyse progress towards UHC by fostering global collaborations.
Emphasizing on the significance of collaborative research in mitigating and responding effectively to global health crises, Dr Mandaviya said, “The pandemic has highlighted the need for increased collaboration and synergy in the development of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics.” He suggested that the BRICS Vaccine Research & Development Center can play a vital role in providing equitable access to safe, efficacious, and affordable vaccines, alongside sustainable vaccine research and development. Furthermore, Dr Mandaviya proposed the rotatory chairmanship of the steering and scientific committees of the center to ensure optimal benefits for BRICS nations.
Dr Mandaviya shared India’s commitment to eliminating tuberculosis (TB) by 2025, five years ahead of the set target under SDG 3.3. India has implemented comprehensive initiatives focused not only on treatment but also on nutritional assistance through community support, resulting in a reduction of 13% in TB incidence and 15% in TB mortality from 2015 to 2022, surpassing global reductions in both categories.
Recognizing the burden of TB in BRICS countries, Dr Mandaviya suggested expanding the collaboration within the BRICS TB research network to create a safe and effective vaccine. He proposed discussing a framework for collaboration in the 13th meeting of the network to further increase joint efforts.
Dr Mandaviya further said, “Disease knows no borders, and collective efforts must transcend national boundaries.” Hence he stressed the importance of collaboration in surveillance, research and development, information sharing, and establishing joint response mechanisms to prevent disease outbreaks and epidemics from turning into pandemics.
The Health Minister outlined three core agendas for the transformation of the global healthcare landscape: Healthcare Emergency Preparedness, Equitable access to Medical Countermeasures, and Digital Health. He highlighted the need for a Global Medical Countermeasures Platform to ensure equitable access to safe, high-quality, cost-effective medical countermeasures. Dr Mandaviya also emphasized the promotion of equitable access to technological tools through an institutional framework for digital health solutions, particularly for low-and-middle-income countries.
Dr Mandaviya called upon all participants to converge their efforts and work towards achieving these agendas, leveraging the unique opportunity as Health Ministers of BRICS nations to shape the future of global health. By harnessing collective strengths, a healthier, more resilient, and inclusive world can be created for citizens of all nations.
Dr Mandaviya spoke of how the BRICS Health Ministers Meeting 2023 serves as a crucial platform for exchanging ideas, aligning with the World Health Organization’s agenda, and promoting global collaborations. With the BRICS nations accounting for a significant portion of the world’s population, land area, and GDP, their collective efforts are poised to have a substantial impact on the global health architecture.