The COVID-19 pandemic has made the world aware of the consequences of ignoring the strengthening of health systems, Union minister Harsh Vardhan on Monday said, as he pitched for boosting global partnerships to reinvigorate interest and investment in public health. Vardhan, who chaired the 147th session of the WHO Executive Board through video conference, stressed on constant engagement with each Member State, their interface with each other as well as all stakeholders for reinforcing reforms and accelerating progress toward the sustainable development goals and universal health coverage.
Stating that 2020 has been the year of collaborative action, he said mankind was already fighting overwhelming challenges of poverty, hunger, inequality, climate change, pollution, and disease and now the pandemic has shaken people to the core. "There is no better future without health for all. A lesson we knew; and a lesson that we have now relearnt," he said.
He said that the WHO believes in the principle that the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition. "We, therefore, commit to work with the Member States; the organisation and the global community of partners for the efficient, effective and responsive discharge of public health obligations.
"The pandemic has made humanity acutely aware of the consequences of ignoring health systems strengthening and preparedness. In such times of global crisis, risk management and mitigation both would require further strengthening of global partnerships to reinvigorate interest and investment in global public health," Vardhan said. The Union health minister said that constant engagement with each Member State, their interface with each other as well as all stakeholders will reinforce reforms and help accelerate progress toward the sustainable development goals and universal health coverage with the most productive, efficient and targeted utilisation of resources.
"We have seen successes in all the regional flagship priority areas through collaborative action. We will continue to contribute to regional and global public health issues through advocacy, technical collaboration, research, innovations, digital health and partnerships aimed at improving the accessibility and affordability of health services and high-quality essential medicines and products," he further said. The World Health Organisation and its Member States across the globe are committed to harnessing this opportunity to build back health systems that are more resilient, and which can meet everyone's health needs, Vardhan said.
"We are already identifying and acting on the lessons learnt from the current crisis so that together we can achieve more robust and resilient health systems that can promote a sustained economic recovery and a healthier future for people across the world. "Let me mention that from the beginning of the outbreak, all Member States have acted with speed, scale and solidarity to control and suppress the spread of COVID-19 and empower individuals and communities to stay safe, healthy and well," he said.
He stressed on enhancing cooperation and collaboration and working in unison with each other as Member States, with all the UN organisations, as well as the global community of partners, for efficient, effective and responsive discharge of public health obligations. Vardhan also offered his condolences to those families across the world who have lost their near and dear ones to this deadly disease and saluted doctors and healthcare workers who had been working relentlessly in rendering selfless services to fight COVID-19.