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Speed Post News Network

New Delhi : Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Dr  Harsh Vardhan digitally addressed an event by Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) and UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) here on December 17, 2020, through Video Conference. The theme of the event was “Build Back Better: building resilient health infrastructure and supply chains.”

At the outset, Dr Vardhan applauded the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure for organising the webinar with a forward looking perspective on how to make  health infrastructure and supply chains more resilient.

Speaking on the COVID trajectory in India, Dr Vardhan said, “It has been almost one year since the outbreak of COVID-19. While the caseload infection in many parts of the world is decreasing, many others are experiencing a second or even a third peak. Fortunately, in India, the cases are steadily coming down. We recognised the threat early and pursued a scientific evidence based approach.”

Highlighting the steps taken by India to handle the unprecedented humanitarian crisis, Dr Vardhan stated, “Our first step was to expand our present capacities swiftly, whether it was for testing, PPE production, or hospital beds. We looked at the problem in greater granularity and scaled up at an incredible pace.”

He continued,“We also repurposed our capacities from multiple research disciplines across a wide range of public and private institutions. We repurposed defense research capacities for quickly erecting hospitals with enhanced capacity. From being an importer of PPEs before the pandemic, India is now a net exporter of PPEs. We scaled up our testing capacity from a few hundred tests per day to a million tests per day.” Dr Vardhan also detailed on how effective communication strategy has been a cornerstone of the approach.

Emphasizing on the multipronged approach to combat COVID, the Minister said, “Apart from this, we recognised early that while the health sector has to be at the forefront of combating COVID-19, it requires involvement of all of the government functions – disaster management, industry, civil aviation, shipping, pharmaceuticals, and environment and so on. We innovated early on to establish an institutional platform in the form of “empowered groups” to bring together these multi-sectoral functions in a cohesive manner.”

He also commented, “We made innovative use of a range of digital technologies to track, monitor, and control the disease. In a country like India – with a large digital divide – we had to ensure that we use a judicious mix of different technologies so that no one is left behind.”

Dr Vardhan said, “I believe that some of the good practices that have been developed in many countries of the world during the pandemic need to be institutionalised. We do not need to reinvent these in the future.”