Union Health Minister Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya inaugurates the Developing Countries Vaccine Manufacturers Network (DCVMN)’s 23rd annual general meeting in Pune

Mansukh Mandaviya

Union Health and Family Welfare Minister, Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya appealed to governments around the world, funding agencies working on global health issues, and industries to come together and ensure that the lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic are studied and prepare a strategy for the world to succeed better in handling such crisis in the future.

The Union Minister spoke at the inaugural ceremony of the Developing Countries Vaccine Manufacturers Network (DCVMN)’s 23rd annual general meeting in Pune yesterday. When the power of government, scientists, and industries are combined with national and international organisations, then all health challenges can be faced and resolved, he further added.

The two-day event is being co-hosted by Serum Institute of India (SII) along with DCVMN on the theme ‘Global Equity and Timely-Access: COVID-19 and Beyond’. Vaccine manufacturers, scientists, experts, and industry leaders participated in the inaugural session.

Speaking on the occasion, Union Minister said that this event is special as it has been organised just prior to Deepavali – a festival which every Indian regards as ‘ending darkness and moving towards the light’. “I hope the darkness that was created by COVID-19 will be removed this Deepavali and an atmosphere of positivity will be created in the world”. Dr. Mandaviya said that we witnessed the importance of knowledge and wisdom when COVID-19 had spread across the world and scientists world over came together and succeeded in finding a solution for it. The Health Minister congratulated the Indian scientists who worked together with developed countries and became successful in developing vaccines for COVID-19. He said that India could become triumphant in developing ‘Swadeshi Vaccines’ because of the scientists’ hard work and PM Narendra Modi’s faith in the country’s scientific community.

Speaking about India’s COVID-19 vaccination drive, Health Minister asserted that 70 per cent population of the country is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 today. He said that under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi, India could launch the biggest vaccination drive ‘Sabko Vaccine, Muft Vaccine’. He added that India could attain the pride of achieving 100 crore vaccinations within a short period of nine months and had administered 200 crore vaccinations in 18 months. “India could succeed in the vaccination drive because of Hon’ble PM’s able leadership, scientific community’s wisdom, vaccinators’ hard work, and the indomitable spirit of the vaccine manufacturing companies”. Serum Institute of India, Bharat Biotech, Biological E, and Zydus Cadila are the companies that assisted the Government of India at all stages of the vaccination program, said Dr. Mandaviya.

The Union Health and Family Welfare Minister said that bringing out vaccines is a great scientific achievement in the fight against diseases. It is the most cost-effective public health tool for preventing diseases across all countries, he added. “I feel happy as the vaccination coverage has increased across the world and lakhs of lives are saved as its result”. He also said that India has also continuously increased its vaccination coverage. The country’s ‘Universal Immunisation Program’ stands as evidence for it, said Dr. Mandaviya. The country has also worked to improve the scope of healthcare delivery at primary, secondary, and tertiary levels, he also said. “We have a strong workforce in the healthcare sector, which includes ASHA Workers. Thus, healthcare services reach out even to the last citizen in the country”.

The Union Health and Family Welfare Minister stated the four areas to focus on for making progress in vaccination- Knowledge, Technology, Social, and Economy.

Dr. Mandaviya called for normalisation of ‘routine immunisation’ which he said has “suffered a lot during the pandemic”. He noted that faster progress needs to be made in this area.

The Minister acknowledged that the DCVMN is supplying about 70 per cent of the API vaccines in the world. “DCVMN has also focused on vaccines for Rotavirus, Japanese Encephalitis, Pneumonia, Meningitis, and Neglected Tropical Diseases. This organisation’s formation is a great example of the partnership model, where organisations like WHO, UNICEF, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Donor Governments, Programme for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH), country-level regulatory bodies and agencies, and various governments played vital roles”, said the Union Health and Family Welfare Minister.

Dr. Mandaviya also assured the DCVMN stakeholders that the G-20 presided over by India will take meaningful and result-oriented steps in the future too.

WHO Chief Scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, Serum Institute of India’s MD Cyrus S. Poonawalla and CEO Adar Poonawalla, Bharat Biotech Pvt. Ltd.’s Sai D. Prasad were present on the occasion, while WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, CEPI’s Dr. Richard Hatchett, Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and Regional Director of the WHO in the Americas Dr. Carissa F. Etienne and the President and CEO of PATH (Program for Appropriate Technology in Health) Nikolaj Gilbert joined the session virtually.

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