Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare participated in the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Health Ministers’ meeting through video conference, here today.
The meeting was chaired by Mr. Ogtay Shiraliyev, Minister of Health, Republic of Azerbaijan.
The NAM Summit is being organized at a time when the international community has been faced with a pandemic which has disrupted lives and livelihood of millions of people around the world. NAM expressed its concern at the global threat posed by COVID-19 and resolved to fight it with proper preparedness, prevention, resilience-building, and greater national, regional and international collaboration.
The address delivered by Dr. Harsh Vardhan is as follows:
“Mr. Chairman, Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen!
I would like to begin by congratulating the Chair, the Minister of Health for the Republic of Azerbaijan for organizing this important and timely Conference.
This is undoubtedly an unprecedented time in our planet’s history. COVID-19 has claimed more than Three Hundred Thousand (3,00,000) precious lives, infected over four million and snatched away the livelihoods of billions. Let me express my heartfelt condolences to those families across the world who have lost their near and dear ones to this deadly disease.
Mr. Chairman, COVID-19 has made us realize that we are more interconnected and interdependent than ever before. It has made us realize that the man-made challenges that our planet faces today – such as Climate change and public health emergencies – can only be faced together, not when we are divided. It requires collaboration, not coercion.
The present pandemic crisis also reminds us that the global institutions of governance need to become more democratic, transparent and representative to be credible and effective, and a reformed multilateralism is the need of the hour.
On its part, India has been fighting the COVID battle with a firm political will. Our Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi has ensured speed, scale and determination in the handling of this crisis. India took every possible step to ensure that we contain the spread of the virus. We also ensured that focus on COVID should not mean neglect of patients of other diseases.
Armed with a political will to ensure that we defeat this dreadful disease, 1.35 billion Indians came together to honor the decisions on nationwide lockdowns that have kept our mortality rate down and contained the spread of the disease. Our policy of micro Identification, mass Isolation and quick Treatment reaped good dividends in preventing large scale spread and deaths due to COVID-19.
Although India has a robust healthcare system, we swung into action and added capacity in terms of infrastructure as well as manpower. With a fleet of 10,000 dedicated COVID hospitals and Care Centers and a trained healthcare workforce of over two million, there was no looking back.
As we care for our citizens, we have also extended help to other countries. In our immediate neighborhood, we have promoted coordination to counter COVID-19 and organized capacity building by sharing India’s medical expertise.
India is living up to its reputation as the pharmacy of the world, especially for affordable medicines. Besides meeting our domestic needs, we have provided medical supplies to over 123 partner countries, including 59 members of NAM. We are taking active part in the global efforts to develop remedies and vaccines.
We remain sincerely committed to solidarity among the NAM Member States to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. During the video conference of NAM Contact Group on 4th May, Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi expressed our country’s solidarity with not only the NAM countries but with the entire world as we believe in the doctrine of ‘Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam’ – which means that the whole world is our family.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to sum up by saying that as developing countries, it is our people that stand to be the most profoundly affected by these changes. We must all realize that our destinies are linked like never before. India looks forward to a collective journey, of constructive deliberations, cooperation and collaboration in the spirit of solidarity and fraternity that characterizes NAM.
Before I close my speech, let me honor those who have honored mankind. Let us all stand up to clap for all frontline COVID warriors – our doctors, our nurses, our paramedics, our sanitation and security staff, our army, police and paramilitary forces, our journalists, all those who are putting their lives at risk for us, and for their families who are sending their members to the battlefield with all the risks. They have taught us a lesson, and that lesson is; to never forget that human welfare must be the basis of all economic growth.