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Universal health coverage key to achieving sustainable development goals: Vardhan

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Access to medical products and creating an enabling legal and trade environment for the public were critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 agenda, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Tuesday.

Inaugurating the "2019 World Conference on Access to Medical Products: Achieving the SDGs 2030", Vardhan said the Indian government was initiating measures and making constant efforts for providing the highest possible standards of healthcare to the citizens.

"A universal health coverage (UHC) is key to the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 agenda and to which India is firmly committed. Access to medical products and creating an enabling legal and trade environment for the public are critical to achieving the SDGs," Vardhan said.

The main objective of the conference is to track the progress on recommendations from the 2018 World Conference for access to medical products for achieving UHC in the context of SDGs.

"Efficient healthcare delivery systems, providing equitable, affordable and easily accessible healthcare is at the heart of all our efforts," Vardhan said at the conference organised by the Health Ministry and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Terming the conference a valuable platform for sharing experiences and advancing increased access to medical products globally as part of UHC, the health minister said it will spur innovative thinking on issues surrounding provisioning of affordable, quality medical products as part of public healthcare delivery systems.

Medical technologies underpinned by latest ideas and pooled-in knowledge, form a critical pillar of healthcare, he said.

"We must optimally develop a robust system of sharing knowledge and other resources and to practically translate discussions held at this World Conference for larger public welfare," he added.

Vardhan further announced that the 2020 World Conference will be held from September 23 to 25. It will be followed by the 'International Conference of Drug Regulatory Authorities (ICDRA)', which India will be hosting for the first time. The event will take place from September 28 to October 2, 2020.

Bangladesh Health Minister Zahid Maleque, Bhutan's Minister for Health Lyonpo Dechen Wangmo, Nepal Deputy Prime Minister, and Minister of Health and Population Upendra Yadav and Dr V K Paul, Member (Health) Niti Aayog, were present at the event.

WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in his video message, reiterated the commitment of the global health body in ensuring affordability and availability of medical products to people around the world.

He stressed that with the increasing burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), the need for long-term treatment, and healthcare cost have increased.

"Additionally, ageing population creates demand for more affordable assisted technologies. Advances in medical technologies every day gives hope to people for better healthcare. This simultaneously increases the pressure for providing affordable medical care. Through our efforts we shall continue to put people first," Ghebreyesus said.

Following the UN high-level meeting on Universal Health Coverage during the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the 2019 World Conference seeks to take forward the international and national agenda on access to medical products.

Established in 2015, the SDGs include 232 individual indicators to monitor 17 goals and 169 targets, ranging from energy, climate change and economic growth to health and education.

The 2030 Agenda commits the global community to "achieving sustainable development in its three dimensions -- economic, social and environmental -- in a balanced and integrated manner".

Health is an important cross-cutting policy issue in the international agenda, as it is a precondition and an outcome and indicator of all three dimensions of sustainable development.

The three-day conference has been designed as a forum to take these discussions further for access to medical products on the themes of 'UHC and innovation', 'regulation of medical products and access' and 'legal landscape and trade-related aspects in the context of access to medical products'.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, November 19 2019. 19:00 IST
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