Better future doesn’t exist without healthcare for all: Harsh Vardhan

Health Ministry: We never mentioned we'd vaccinate entire population

New Delhi: Addressing the 147th session of the World Health Organization (WHO), Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, who also happens to be a chairperson of the WHO, said on Monday that better future does not exist without healthcare for all.

“A lesson we knew, and a lesson that we have now re-learnt is that there is no better future without healthcare for all,” he stated.

While acknowledging the wrath of the Covid-19 pandemic as a consequence of ignoring the health system’s preparedness, Vardhan stressed that the nations now need to further strengthen the interest in global public health.

“The pandemic has made the humanity acutely aware of the consequences of ignoring health systems strengthening and preparedness. In such times of global crisis, risk management and mitigation would require further strengthening of global partnerships to re-invigorate interest and investment in global public health,” he said.

He assured that the constant engagement of all member states of WHO with each other will bring reforms and accelerate progress all over.

“Our 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 utilization of resources,” he added.

During his address, Harsh Vardhan condoled the fatalities caused by the pandemic globally while praising the role of healthcare workers in fighting the deadly disease.

“This pandemic has claimed 1,326,305 precious lives, infected millions and snatched away the livelihoods of billions. My heartfelt condolences to those families across the world who have lost their near and dear ones to this deadly disease,” he said.

“I also take this opportunity to salute our doctors and healthcare workers who have been working relentlessly to fight this deadly disease and I urge all of you to please join me in giving them a big hand,” Harsh Vardhan added.

At the 72nd Regional Committee Session of WHO South-East Asia in September 2019, the member states had nominated India to be a member of the WHO Executive Board from the region to replace Sri Lanka whose term expired in May 2020 and also to lead the 147th and 148th sessions of the Executive Board with Harsh Vardhan as the chairperson.

Harsh Vardhan, who took over from Hiroki Nakatani of Japan, would chair the 148th session of the Executive Board in January 2021. At the Executive Board meeting in May 2021, he will hand over the charge to the next chair from another WHO region. He will continue to be a member of the Executive Board till 2023.