Disease knows no borders, Covid highlighted need for increased collaboration: Mandaviya

New Delhi, May 25 (PTI) Disease knows no borders and the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for increased collaboration and synergy in the development of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said on Thursday.

Mandaviya was addressing the BRICS Health Ministers Meeting 2023 on the sidelines of the World Health Assembly in Geneva, a health ministry statement said.

The meeting brought together health ministers from BRICS member countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Emphasising the significance of collaborative research in mitigating and responding effectively to global health crises, Mandaviya said, “The pandemic has highlighted the need for increased collaboration and synergy in the development of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics.” He said the BRICS Vaccine Research and Development Centre can play a vital role in providing equitable access to safe, efficacious and affordable vaccines, alongside sustainable vaccine research and development.

“Disease knows no borders and collective efforts must transcend national boundaries,” the minister said, stressing the importance of collaboration in surveillance, research and development, information sharing and establishing joint response mechanisms to prevent disease outbreaks and epidemics from turning into pandemics.

Furthermore, Mandaviya proposed the rotatory chairmanship of the steering and scientific committees of the centre to ensure optimal benefits for BRICS nations, the statement said.

Mandaviya shared India’s commitment to eliminating tuberculosis (TB) by 2025, five years ahead of the target set under Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 3.3, it said.

India has implemented comprehensive initiatives focused not only on treatment but also on nutritional assistance through community support, resulting in a 13 per cent reduction in TB incidence and a 15 per cent reduction in TB mortality from 2015 to 2022, surpassing global reductions in both categories.

Recognising the burden of TB in BRICS countries, Mandaviya suggested expanding the collaboration within the BRICS TB research network to create a safe and effective vaccine. He proposed discussing a framework for collaboration in the 13th meeting of the network to further increase joint efforts.

Mandaviya outlined three core agendas for the transformation of the global healthcare landscape: Healthcare Emergency Preparedness, Equitable Access to Medical Countermeasures and Digital Health.

He highlighted the need for a Global Medical Countermeasures Platform to ensure equitable access to safe, high-quality and cost-effective medical countermeasures.

He also emphasised the promotion of equitable access to technological tools through an institutional framework for digital health solutions, particularly for low and middle-income countries, the statement said.

Mandaviya extended his heartfelt congratulations to South Africa for prioritising the agenda of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) through the theme of “Bridging the Gap on Sustainable Health on the Road to UHC 2023”. PTI