India utilized time during lockdown to upgrade health infrastructure: Dr Harsh Vardhan
Elaborating on how India can progress with self reliance, the Union Minister said, "India can progress only if each citizen progresses and for each citizen to progress we need to be self reliant.
New Delhi: Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare virtually addressed a webinar organised by Swarjya Magazine on Aatmanirbhar Bharat, Swatantra Bharat and India's Healthcare Ecosystem in a Post-Covid-World.
At the outset, Dr Harsh Vardhan wished everybody a Happy Makar Sankranti and congratulated Swarajya for taking up a series of webinars on the theme of Atmanirbhar Bharat. He said, "Our government led by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji has been deeply inspired by Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya ji's idea of Antyodaya or serving the very last person in the society. Atmanirbhar Bharat has become one of the focal areas of our government, around which all economic policies are being drawn up. Our government is focused on bridging the gap between the rich and the poor and on providing equal opportunity to all citizens."
Elaborating on how India can progress with self-reliance, the Union Minister said, "India can progress only if each citizen progresses and for each citizen to progress we need to be self-reliant. Self-reliant India does not means boycotting foreign goods but believing in the concept of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. It means ending India's dependence on other countries and moving towards development and progress. Only a self-reliant nation can make its nation paramount."
He continued, "As a step in the direction of Atmanirbhar Bharat, we launched the Make in India initiative to drive India as a hub for manufacturing, cutting edge research and innovation. With industry will come greater employment for our youth, which will ignite prosperity in their lives. The Government has eased norms for doing business and are working to make our tax structures competitive, simplifying procedures and removing unnecessary regulations and placing enormous focus on technology. I'm confident these efforts will directly benefit the poor of India and provide them the windows of opportunity they deserve."
On the subject of turning the COVID crisis into opportunity, Dr Harsh Vardhan said, " At the time of COVID emergency, Prime Minister said that "India MUST see the COVID-19 pandemic crisis as an opportunity" and focused on 5 fundamental pillars: the economy, technology, Infrastructure, Vibrant Demography, and Demand to create a Self-Reliant India. The high density of population coupled with poor infrastructure posed a big challenge. Understanding the highly infectious nature of the disease and the need to ensure overall healthcare availability across the country, India did a strategic re-purposing of existing health infrastructure to ensure that the health systems providing primary healthcare at grassroots levels were left untouched. With the proactive, preemptive, and graded whole of government, whole of society approach that India followed in managing COVID-19 has been one of the hallmarks of its response."
Speaking on the self reliant initiative during the pandemic, he said, "India utilized the time during lockdown to upgrade the health infrastructure, build capacity of healthcare workers and ensure availability of requisite logistics in the country. We are today self-sufficient in the indigenous manufacturing of PPE kits, masks etc and also in a position to export the same. From one lab in Pune, we now have more than ICMR-certified 2,323 labs."
On leveraging technology in the fight against the pandemic, Dr Harsh Vardhan said, "The Aarogya Setu application was developed for the purpose of helping in COVID management. The application has been downloaded by 168 million users. In order to aid the surveillance and containment activities, an IT tool called ITIHAS was also developed. 'eSanjeevani', a web-based comprehensive telemedicine solution is being utilized across India to extend the reach of specialized healthcare services to masses in both rural areas and isolated communities. 'e-ICUs' also provided round the clock guidance in managing ICU patients in peripheral settings."
Noting the efforts undertaken to rapidly increase the infrastructure in the country during the pandemic, he said, "Total isolation beds increased to more than 1.5 million by the end of Unlock 6 as compared to 10,180 before the lockdown. Similarly, the number of ICU beds has increased to around 80,669 as compared to just 2,168 before lockdown. A National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID19, NEGVAC was constituted under the guidance of Hon'ble Prime Minister to monitor and decide on prioritization of population groups for vaccination, the delivery mechanism of the vaccine including tracking of the vaccination process and selection of delivery platforms. An indigenously developed Co-WIN, a Digital Platform for COVID-19 vaccination delivery has also been developed. COVID-19 vaccination drive is also driven by 'Make in India' and both the vaccines that have received emergency authorization in India have been manufactured indigenously."
Ending the speech, the Union Minister said, "The call for Atmanirbhar Bharat is an inspiring call to keep pursuing your mission without being overcome by any obstacles, to establish a system of sacrifice and hard work and to work towards nation-building."