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India to leverage learnings from Covid in strengthening health system

Melinda French Gates congratulated the Union Health Minister for India’s successful Covid-19 vaccination drive and praised the colossal efforts undertaken by the Government of India in managing the pandemic. She also commended the numerous initiatives of the Union Health Ministry’s recent programs and policies which have served to enhance growth and provide opportunities for women and girls more than ever before.

Dr Mansukh Mandaviya and Melinda French Gates discussed in detail the potential and new opportunities for India’s ambitious health sector reforms, with particular emphasis on strengthening the health infrastructure and digital health mission under the aegis of Ayushman Bharat. They also discussed opportunities to leverage Indian vaccine manufacturing and digital goods for global public health, specifically in light of India’s charge of the G20 Presidency.

Dr Mandaviya and Melinda French Gates unveiled report titled “Grassroot Soldiers: Role of ASHAs and ANMs in the Covid-19 Pandemic Management in India”. The report is a collaborative endeavor by Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), National Health Systems Resource Center (NHSRC), and the Institute for Competitiveness (IFC).

Dr Mandaviya stated that “Our frontline healthcare workers, by taking upon the role of both caregivers and leaders during the pandemic, have emerged as our true heroes. It is important to document and share their story of addressing and managing such a huge crisis with tremendous dedication and commitment.”

The report is a comprehensive document encapsulating the experience and key role of ASHAs and ANMs in India’s pandemic response strategy, and their critical role in delivering routine health care services to the remotest corners of the country. India launched one of the largest vaccination programs in the world extending its reach to the innermost and far-flung regions of the country. As foot soldiers they touched each and every household, supported the Covid-19 management and motivated them for vaccination. They played a pivotal role in providing a range of services ranging from door-to-door surveys, vaccination, disseminating information on hygiene practices, nutrition and sanitation, reproductive and childcare services, communicable and non-communicable disease prevention and control.

The Health Minister Dr Mansukh Mandaviya stated “Our globally heralded vaccination drive demonstrated the power of ‘whole of society’ approach in dealing with a crisis. Under the strong and capable leadership of Honorable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji, we seek to leverage the learnings from the last two years in strengthening the country’s health system to provide affordable, quality healthcare to every citizen”.

Lauding India’s progress on key health indicators, Melinda French Gates reiterated her appreciation of India’s endeavors. She said, “It is amazing how India covered more than 90 % of its population through vaccination in such a short time. India has been a champion in pioneering innovations to fight the pandemic and minimize its impact on the most vulnerable groups. The country has made rapid strides in improving health outcomes of millions of citizens, particularly in ensuring consistent progress on maternal and child health indicators. India has done remarkable work in the comprehensive primary health care system & digital health, lessons from India can be replicated across the world. The Gates Foundation stands committed to support India’s health priorities including health system strengthening and elimination of persistent diseases.”

She congratulated Dr Mandaviya on India’s G20 Presidency.
MB Bureau

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