Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya reemphasized on Monday the urgent need for bringing transparency and accountability in the functioning of the World Health Organization (WHO) to make it "fit for purpose" and working towards its financial sustainability.
Addressing the inaugural session of the G20 Health Ministers' Meeting, being held in Yogyakarta in Indonesia, virtually, the minister shared the status of the COVID-19 pandemic and highlighted the need for systemic changes in health governance, according to a Health Ministry statement.
"The ongoing pandemic has posed multiple challenges on the health systems across the globe, developed and developing countries alike... (It) has highlighted the fault lines in the global health governance and has brought to the fore the importance of strengthening global health architecture.
"It has reinforced the need to assess health ecosystems, health financing and their linkages in light of the experience in managing the current pandemic,” the minister said.
Mandaviya was hopeful that the ongoing reduced trajectory of COVID-19 is an encouraging sign that the pandemic's end is near, the statement said.
He said that India agrees to mutual recognition of vaccine credentials including its wider application for interoperability of health data.
"A boost to digital health data systems to enable seamless interoperability of data and creation of longitudinal electronic health records within a country and at the global level is crucial," Mandaviya said.
"He also reemphasized the urgent need for bringing transparency and accountability in WHO functioning so as to make WHO ‘fit for purpose’ beside the need to work towards the financial sustainability of WHO," according to the statement.
The minister suggested G20 members for an institutional framework to enable rapid sharing of genome sequencing data along with a neutral and aggregate data-sharing model amongst countries, the statement said.
This could be done across multiple pathogens with equitable benefit sharing under the framework of the Nagoya protocol, he said.
He advocated for an inclusive, agile and responsive framework for health emergency management, supported by a global mechanism of surveillance, sustainable financing and equitable distribution of medical countermeasures, the statement said.
"G20 countries account for 80% of the world's GDP and share 80% of global cross-border trade and hence G20's engagement and leadership will be vital to strengthen the global health architecture and management of any future health emergencies," he said.
Emphasising further for supporting the Global South and removing inequities, Mandaviya said that mechanisms must be created to support low-and lower-middle-income countries, the statement said.
This can be done through strengthening research and manufacturing capacities, and equitable deployment of medical countermeasures, he said.
"G20 countries must prioritise establishing an ecosystem for VTD research, technology transfers and regional manufacturing hubs, especially in the Global South. India will also support this endeavour and will collaborate proactively to develop an mRNA vaccine hub in the Global South by extending its manufacturing and research capacity,” he said.
"This will help the Global South to face future health threats effectively," the minister stated.
Indonesia has hosted two Health Working Group Meetings in Yogyakarta and Lombok wherein priority issues of 'Harmonizing Global Health Protocol Standards' and 'Building Global Health System Resilience' were discussed and deliberated upon, the ministry statement said.
Mandaviya also thanked the Indonesian Presidency for prioritising the issue of TB and One Health in the meeting. India has pledged to End TB by 2025, five years ahead of the global SDG target of 2030.
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