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J P Nadda addresses the‘71st Session of the WHO Regional Committee for South-East Asia’

“India has fast-tracked many initiatives aimed at achieving all the core tenets of Universal Health Coverage i.e, strengthening health systems, improving access to free medicines & diagnostics and reducing catastrophic healthcare spending.” This was stated by Shri J P Nadda, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare at the inauguration of the ‘71st Session of the WHO Regional Committee for South-East Asia,’ here today. Shri J P Nadda further stated that India on its part firmly believes in the objective of attainment of the highest possible level of health, where health is a state of complete physical, mental, spiritual and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. “Moving toward this objective, we have adopted the National Health Policy 2017 with the aim to provide affordable healthcare for all,” Shri Nadda added.

Ministers of Health from the countries of the WHO South East Asia Region (SEAR), Shri Amitabh Kant, CEO of NITI Aayog, SmtPreeti Sudan, Secretary (Health), Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region andMs Jane Allison, DDG, WHO were also present at the inaugural session.

Reiterating the commitment of the Government, Shri Nadda stated that under the visionary leadership of the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, India has recently launched the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya scheme under the ambitious programme called ‘Ayushman Bharat’ i.e. Long live India, one of the central pillars of this year’s budget. He further said that ‘Ayushman Bharat’ rests on the twin pillars of Health and Wellness Centres for provision of comprehensive primary healthcare services and the Prime Minister’s National Health Protection Mission for secondary and tertiary care to 100 million families. “Under the first pillar of Pradhan Mantri Jan ArogyaYojana, we are reaching, out to approximately 40% of country’s population roughly covering 500 million individuals, who will be provided an insurance cover of 500 thousand Indian rupees to cover secondary and tertiary health-care. Initially spanning almost 1300 procedures under 20 different specialties, this will be the largest government funded health protection scheme in the world,” the Health Minister elaborated.He added that under the second pillar, one hundred & fifty thousand health and wellness centres would ‘bring healthcare closer to people, so that every Indian can have timely access to health care, including diagnostic services and free essential drugs. Shri Nadda further stated that the Health Ministry is working very hard for effective implementation of “Ayushman Bharat” for a healthy, productive and prosperous India.

Highlighting the initiatives of the Government, Shri Nadda said that although the WHO has fixed 2030 as the timeline for elimination of Tuberculosis, our Prime Minister has exhorted us to do it five years ahead of target in 2025. “In line with this ambitious plan, India is on track for the implementation of the National Strategic Plan for Tuberculosis and we have recently introduced supplementary nutritional support for the complete duration of treatment for patients,” he added. Shri Nadda further stated that India has already initiated universal screening for prevention and management of five common NCDs including hypertension, diabetes and three common Cancers of oral cavity, breast and cervix at pan India level. He also informed that the Health Ministry has started a unique initiative called AMRIT Deendayal, an acronym for ‘Affordable Medicines & Reliable Implants for Treatment’ – Centres that provide medicines for cancer & cardiovascular diseases and cardiac implants at significantly reduced prices. The Government has also opened Jan Aushadhi (peoples’ medicines) stores to make available quality affordable essential medicines to people in need.

Addressing the participants, the Union Health Minister said that India has always supported regional and global public health issues whether it be advocacy, technical collaboration, research and development, partnerships or improving the accessibility and affordability of health services and high quality essential medical products. “India supports the Regional and Global health agenda andstands ready to work with fellow member states and the international community to achieve our common goal of Health for All,” he emphasized.

Also present at the event were Ambassadors and High Commissioners from the member countries, senior officers of the Ministry and representatives and delegates from across the globe.

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