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India calls for access to essential healthcare products

India on Tuesday called for equitable access to essential healthcare products and their last-mile delivery to ensure innovations reach those who need the most.

Addressing a meeting of the second World Local Production Forum (WLPF) at Hague in the Netherlands, Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilisers Bhagwant Khuba urged the Forum to focus on “last-mile delivery of healthcare products to ensure that the benefits of innovations reach those who need them most and guarantee equitable access to essential healthcare products.”.

WLPF is an initiative of the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The minister also said that the Forum must focus on marketing, upscaling regional manufacturing, efficient procurement and delivery systems, and repurposing existing infrastructure for efficient coordination during health emergencies, an official statement quoted Khuba as saying.

He said this meeting provides a crucial opportunity to share experiences, challenges and successes in the development and manufacturing of diagnostic counter measures.

“We must collaborate further to identify innovative approaches that will enable sustainable and equitable access to these critical tools.

Khuba further said the 21st century has seen frequent epidemics and pandemics like Covid-19, revealing vulnerabilities in global supply chain and inequities in accessing quality medical countermeasures.

“Inadequate diagnostic tools worsened outbreaks, emphasizing the necessity of enhancing cooperation for sustainable, affordable diagnostic countermeasures to improve global access to them. Countries worldwide have realized the importance of collaboration between multiple sectors for achieving equity in providing novel solutions,” he said.

Stating that currently, the local production faces significant challenges as it seeks to address the critical issue of translating research into product development, the Minister said, “Lack of technology transfer stands out as a formidable barrier.” Validation, production, and distribution are daunting hurdles, requiring efficient coordination to bring innovative healthcare technologies to market. Capacity building in regulatory systems and skilled technical manpower are necessary ingredients, he added.

Asserting that India’s pharmaceutical companies have become reliable and affordable suppliers of high-quality drugs and significantly improving healthcare access worldwide, the Minister said the country provides approximately 60 per cent of the global vaccine supply, accounts for 20-22 per cent of generic exports and serves over 200 countries through its pharmaceutical exports.

The minister also shared that numerous Indian organizations have played a pivotal role in promoting innovation and entrepreneurship that act as a landscape for innovative minds and ultimately boost the health sector.

The government is also providing funding, mentoring, incubation space, etc, and acting as a bridge between academia and industry to ensure timely translation of innovations into commercial ventures, he added. PTI

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