New Delhi, 20 April 2021: Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare addressed the Next Gen Health Summit ‘Re-Imagine Healthcare’, organized by the IMC Chamber of Commerce and Industry, through a video recorded message today.

Congratulating the IMC Chamber of Commerce and Industry for taking forward the dialogue on the future of healthcare system and ways to make it more resilient, Dr Harsh Vardhan expressed his appreciation at the participation of numerous luminaries and experts from healthcare and allied fields at the forum.

On the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in India, the Union Health Minister noted that the situation seems overwhelming once again but expressed his optimism that “with our ‘Whole of Government’ & ‘Whole of Society’ approach we shall once again overcome the challenges posed by the recent wave of this pandemic. Together, we shall emerge stronger and even more resilient.”

Dr Harsh Vardhan added that, “While COVID19 has laid bare the many fallacies in health systems across the globe, it has also brought health at the centre-stage of public policy making.” He also stated that, “affordability and accessibility will be key to establishing a healthcare system which can withstand shocks such as the current pandemic.”

Highlighting the government’s efforts towards improving the overall well-being of the society at large, Dr Harsh Vardhan said, “Many of the Government’s programs are already working on these facets of healthcare. Our ambitious Ayushman Bharat program is the largest health assurance scheme in the world striving to deliver universal health coverage while also promoting holistic health through its network of over 75,000 Ayushman Bharat-Health and Wellness Centres across the nation. We intend to further expand this number to 1,50,000 by the end of year 2022.” He also added that “Our Fit India, Swachh Bharat, Eat Right India programs have enjoyed huge success in building mass public movements around health and wellbeing. “

Praising the contribution of medical professionals in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr Vardhan said, “the role, our healthcare workers have played in fighting the battle against COVID-19 for more than 14 months now, is praiseworthy and no words can ever express our gratitude towards them. They have sacrificed their mental, physical and emotional wellbeing for protecting the lives of others. We shall forever be indebted to them for their tireless and selfless service.”

The Minister also appreciated the collaborative efforts of all the stakeholders and stated that it is because of them that “the world’s largest vaccine drive going on in the country has been progressing at a rapid pace. We have been the fastest in the world to administer more than 13 crore doses.” He also mentioned about the decisions taken yesterday at a meeting headed by Hon’ble PM Shri Narendra Modi Ji, adding that “all citizens above the age of 18 shall now be eligible to get vaccinated against COVID19 from May 1, 2021. This will further accelerate the pace of our vaccine drive while incentivizing existing and new players to ramp up production in the country.”

Dr Harsh Vardhan also assured the delegates that despite the grave challenge posed by Covid-19, “we are much better prepared today than we were in 2020 and we are doing everything we can to bring it under control with timely steps to break the chain of transmission and expand the vaccination drive across the country.” He further reminded the audience that “while we continue to deal with this grave challenge, we must also work towards our larger goal of preventing, tackling and being better prepared for another health crisis of such magnitude in the future.”

The Union Minister concluded his speech by congratulating Medscape India for coming out with the idea of ‘Statue of Immunity’, along with a research & information centre on immunity to fight future pandemic and by urging everyone to sincerely practice & propagate COVID appropriate behavior so that together we can successfully fight this pandemic.