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Union Health Secretary of India Chairs Side Meeting at the 77th World Health Assembly in Geneva

On 27 May 2024, Union Health Secretary of India, Shri Apurva Chandra, chaired a high-level meeting called “Advancing Health and Well-Being of Billions in WHO South-East Asia Region”. The event was held as a side meeting to the 77th World Health Assembly, co-hosted by the WHO (World Health Organisation) Regional Office for Southeast Asia (SEARO) and the Government of India, in Geneva on 27 May. The agenda of the meeting was to strategise the diverse efforts of the member states, partners, and WHO to address critical public health issues in the Southeast Asia region.

India’s Contribution

The meeting began with an elaborate discussion on India’s health journey, highlighting the four pillars of the Pradhan Mantri Ayushman Bharat Mission, which helped improve Indian citizens’ access to universal health coverage. Shri Apurva Chandra pointed out that those digital technologies that became prominent in India during COVID-19, like the CoWIN platform, are now being converted to UWIN. The latter platform will be used to track the immunisation of every child and the creation of their digital certificates. He further noted that India, the world’s pharma capital, has strengthened the SEARO region by providing affordable medical countermeasures. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, said, “Union Health Secretary addresses High-Level Meeting on “Advancing Health and Well-Being of Billions in @WHO South-East Asia Region.” Highlights India’s digital technologies and platforms like UWIN which is being utilized for tracking immunization and the creation of digital certificates for every child. India by being the pharma capital of the world is providing strength to the SEARO region on affordable medical countermeasures.”

Innovative Measures

Shri Apurva highlighted the BHISM cube, an innovative product developed under India’s Aarogya Maitri Project. This compact, modular medical aid cube is designed to treat a maximum of 200 casualties. Its cutting-edge technology is equipped to be deployed during any emergency or disaster.

Health Collaborations

Representatives of many member states intervened and emphasised the need to strengthen collaboration and cooperation among countries on vaccine delivery, vaccination catch-up, and non-communicable diseases. Other important issues included post-pandemic recovery and dealing with the climate crisis, strengthening health system preparedness for health emergencies, ageing population and compounding mental health issues, strengthening pandemic preparedness response and health security, and decentralising health issues to provincial and district levels.

Dignitaries Present

Several important dignitaries were present on the occasion. It included Hekali Zhimomi, Additional Secretary of the Union Health Ministry; Basant Garg, Additional CEO of the National Health Authority; Aradhana Patnaik, Additional Secretary and Managing Director of the National Health Mission, Union Health Ministry; Arindam Bagchi, India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations; and a few other International Organisations in Geneva. Apart from that, WHO SEARO Regional Director Saima Wazed and representatives from member states, key development partners, WHO Senior management, and the Secretariat also attended the high-level meeting.