Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Tuesday India will contribute $ 2,00,000 for the WHO South-East Asia region's heath emergency fund meant for rapid response towards both natural disasters and human-generated hazards.
He made the announcement at a ministerial round-table on 'Emergency Preparedness' at the 72nd Session of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Committee of South-East Asia here.
At the event, health ministers of WHO's South-East Asia Region also signed the Delhi Declaration on Emergency Preparedness.
"I am very happy to announce that India will contribute $ 2,00,000 towards implementation of the preparedness stream under the South East Asia Health Emergency Response Fund (SEARHEF), and we will release this support at the earliest," Vardhan said.
In the morning, Vardhan, WHO Chef de Cabinet Bernhard Schwartlnder, and Bhutan's Minister of Health Dechen Wangmo cycled to the venue of the meet to focus on strengthening promotive and preventive health so that people adopt healthy lifestyle.
Later, Vardhan also led a yoga session at the venue which was attended by delegates and health ministers from eight of the 11 SEARO countries. They also went for cycling after the yoga session.
Vardhan said after Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave a call at the United Nations General Assembly to recognise yoga as a provider of holistic approach to health and wellbeing, the UNGA adopted a resolution to observe June 21 as International Day of Yoga.
"This, along with Eat Right India campaign, will help us effectively fight lifestyle diseases such as hypertension, obesity and diabetes," the Union health minister said, adding the prime minister has recently launched the 'Fit India Movement' and urged all people to make fitness a part of their daily routine.
Highlighting Cyclone Fani, that hit Odisha in May this year, as a case study in early preparedness and disaster management, Vardhan said accurate weather prediction, effective early warnings, sturdy preparedness for timely shifting of nearly 1.15 million people to cyclone shelters, combined with other risk mitigation measures helped to save many lives.
"Special surveillance was mounted for early detection and control or containment of vector-borne and water-borne diseases. There has been no outbreak of epidemic-prone disease following cyclone Fani," he said.
He further said the whole exercise of accurate prediction of cyclone Fani and saving thousands of human lives was appreciated and acknowledged by the United Nations and many other international agencies.
"The earlier concept of disaster risk-mapping is rapidly getting blurred with large sections of hitherto unexposed population getting vulnerable to natural and man-made hazards. This calls for requisite systems strengthening. For a country this large, addressing multiplicity of hazards is a critical challenge," the Union health minister said.
Informing the meeting that in the recent past, India has provided timely medical supplies worth $ 10 million to 13 countries spread over South-East Asia, Asia Pacific and Africa requiring humanitarian assistance, he said, "We continue to extend medical assistance to six countries this year with supplies worth $ 5 million."
About managing rumours during public health emergencies, Vardhan said, "It is important to share authentic information with the people, as we are the custodians of their faith and as public service providers, need to keep them informed about our support."
Eight health ministers from eight of the 11 countries of the WHO South East Asia Region (SEAR), Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region and senior officers of the Health Ministry were present at the ministerial roundtable.
This is the second time that India is hosting the WHO Regional Committee of South-East Asia meeting.