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New Delhi : Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan addressed the 40th anniversary of AGE-CARE India and the Elders Day celebrations at India International Centre here on April 4, 2021. Prof. R Guleria, Director, AIIMS, and other senior dignitaries from the medical profession were also present on the occasion.

Dr Vardhan conferred the “Most Eminent Senior Citizen” award on Prof. (Dr.) J  S Guleria, Padma Shree Awardee and Senior Consultant, Medicine, at Sita Ram Bhartia Institute & Professor Emeritus, National Science Academy, and Dr G P Seth, Senior Consultant, Internal Medicine.

Dr Vardhan started his address by expressing his appreciation for Dr D R Karthikeyan, President, AGE-CARE India, for taking the initiative of honouring two stalwarts of the medical profession. He also expressed his admiration for the good work that AGE-CARE India has been doing for the elderly of the country, according to a PIB release.

Dr  Vardhan also remembered the contribution and sacrifices of healthcare workers during the pandemic. He specially mentioned the contribution of mothers who endured hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic and despite knowing the risks their sons and daughters in the medical profession faced, never asked them to refuse treating COVID patients. He said, “God is omnipresent and to prove that he is omnipresent, he created mothers.”

Detailing the success against the challenges posed by COVID19, Dr Vardhan highlighted that as soon as the WHO was notified of the suspected case of pneumonia in China, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare swung into action and formed an expert group within 48 hours. He also informed the audience that more than a million people are tested on a regular basis and from 1 single laboratory to test positivity at the initial stage of the pandemic, India now has more than 2,000 labs across the country. The Minister also recalled that India exported hydroxychloroquine to more than 150 countries at the peak of the pandemic. He also highlighted that while India has administered 7.5 crore doses in India while more than 6.5 crore doses have also been sent to other countries.

On the commitment of the present government towards healthcare of the elderly, Dr Vardhan pointed out, “The elderly and people with co-morbidities are being given the priority in inoculation. The government is committed to the welfare of all people especially the elderly of the country.” He also informed that the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare already has a programme dedicated to addressing the various health related problems of the elderly called the “National Programme for the Health Care of Elderly (NPHCE)”. He reminded the audience of PM Narendra Modi’s speech in 2017 wherein he called for two isms to sustain in India : humanism and nationalism.