G20 Health Ministers meet: Dr. Harsh Vardhan highlights India’s graded COVID-19 response plan
At G-20 Health Ministers meet, Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan highlighted India's 'pre-emptive and proactive' approach to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
G20 Health Ministers meet: Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan highlighted India’s “pre-emptive and pro-active approach” to combat COVID-19 pandemic during the G20 Health Ministers virtual meeting on April 19, 2020. Dr. Harsh Vardhan began his speech at the forum by saying that the global health crisis being witnessed globally has created an opportunity to dive deep into the nature of what connects us all, while simultaneously providing the collective strength & wisdom to accomplish the unthinkable.
He pointed out how in the past as well, the global community have faced and successfully tackled threats by a collective sense of purpose, supporting and collaborating. He said that he looked forward to similar cooperation and mutually respectful and useful collaborations to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.
The Union Minister also stated that while some nations- Japan, Singapore and South Korea have fared well, others are still struggling to deal with the outbreak. The scale of impact is unprecedented and therefore, calls for cooperation between nations to attain normalcy.
India’s five-fold approach to combat COVID-19
Dr. Harsh Vardhan reiterated how India has successfully tackled public health emergencies of international concern and pandemics in the past as well. He said that this time, however, India’s approach to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic has been five-fold.
1. Maintaining a continuous situation awareness
2. Pre-emptive and pro-active approach
3. Graded response as per continuously evolving scenario
4. Inter-sectoral coordination at all levels
5. Creating a people’s movement to combat COVOD-19
India’s pre-emptive and pro-active approach
• India started surveillance of flights from COVID-19 affected countries 12 days before it had its first case on January 30, 2020.
• By March 22, with less than 400 cases, India banned all international flights to and from India and implemented a nation-wide lockdown by March 25.
• As of April 19, 2020, India has completed 25 days of lockdown, which will further extend till May 3rd.
• The result of the lockdown was realised when India’s case doubling rate, which was about 3.4 days on March 17, dropped to 4.4 days by March 25. The case doubling rate in India is currently about 7.4 days.
• Much before the outbreak was declared as a public health emergency of international concern by the World Health Organisation, India was much ahead in implementing actions, targeting core capacities as mandated under the international health regulations.
• India has the requisite national core capacities stipulated in the international health regulations to manage public health emergencies.
• India has activated its integrated disease surveillance programme, which is a nation-wide surveillance system for epidemic-prone diseases, towards COVID response and is being further strengthened with substantive digital inputs.
• India has been building exclusive infrastructure for the management of coronavirus patients to avoid their intermingling.
• India has set up 3 types of dedicated COVID management Centres-
1. COVID care centers for mild symptomatic cases
2. COVID health centers for moderate cases
3. COVID hospitals for severe cases
India assumes leadership in assisting neighboring countries
• Since the onset of this pandemic, India has taken leadership and assisted neighbouring countries in a multitude of ways.
• During medical evacuation undertaken by India from Wuhan, China as well as from COVID-19 affected Diamond Princess Cruise ship, India evacuated foreign nationals from Maldives, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Maldives, South Africa, USA, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Nepal, South Africa and Peru.
• India as a global leader in pharmaceutical has stepped up production to make sure supplies of drugs like hydroxychloroquine is made available to countries around the world.
• India is working with global partners to ensure that effective drugs and vaccines can be developed as soon as possible.
The Union Health Minister participated in the G20 Health Minister’s meet almost three weeks after the G20 virtual summit on COVID-19 pandemic on March 26, which was attended by PM Narendra Modi. PM Modi had then proposed the development of a new crisis management protocol to deal with the global health crisis. He had also urged the G20 nations to come together to form a concrete action plan to combat the COVID-19 crisis.
The G20 grouping comprises 19 nations and the European Union. The 19 countries include the United States, United Kingdom, India, France, Germany, Canada, Australia, China, Italy, Japan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, South Korea, Indonesia and Turkey. The group shares about 80 percent of world GDP and 60 percent of the world population.