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India making good progress on COVID-19 vaccine development

India envoy opens Virtual Conference on Pharmaceutical Sector

KUWAIT CITY, Nov 11: The Indian Ambassador to Kuwait HE Sibi George, Nov 11, 2020, inaugurated the Virtual Conference on Pharmaceutical Sector: India & Kuwait – Aatmanirbhar Bharat Series of events – in Kuwait.

Indian Ambassador delivering his speech at the opening of the conference

Addressing the conference the Indian envoy said today’s conference, is the second event under the theme ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat (Self- Reliant India)’, which is a clarion call given by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi which envisages a merger of the local with the global; an idea that ensures India’s strengths act as a global force multiplier.

Today’s conference which focused on the pharmaceuticals sector, the ambassador said, “arguably may be the most relevant in these challenging times when humanity as a whole is facing a public health crisis of the magnitude that has been hitherto not witnessed in almost a century.”

He went on to say, “The fight against COVID-19 continues to evolve even today and the healthcare challenge remains complex. However, we can take heart from the positive trends emerging from India and some other parts of the world. Recovery rates in India continue to improve day by day, currently clocking 92.69 percent.

Fatality rates continue to decline steadily and are now at 1.48 percent, which is significantly lower than the global averages.” India is also making good progress on development of vaccines for COVID-19, he added. Ambassador George disclosed, during the COVID-19 pandemic, India has sent valuable medicines and medical supplies to many countries and played an exemplary role, which has received wide recognition and appreciation across boundaries. India’s innovative pharmaceuticals industry, he said, has risen up to the occasion and has become a global supplier of medicines to the needy at very affordable prices.

By ramping up production, distribution and maintenance of supply lines of essential medicines, medical kits, including personal protective equipment, Indian Pharma producers and distributors have and continue to play a crucial role in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this context, the Indian envoy quoting Prime Minister Modi, while underlining the contribution of India’s pharmaceutical industry, said, “The pandemic has once again shown that India’s Pharma industry is an asset not just for India but for the entire world. It has played a leading role in reducing the cost of medicines especially for developing countries.

“Vaccines made in India are responsible for two-thirds of the vaccine needs of the world’s children. Today, our companies are active in international efforts for the development and production of Covid-19 vaccine”. India is aptly dubbed as the “Pharmacy of the World”; and it is the world’s largest supplier of low-cost generics, vaccines and affordable medicines; it is among the largest producers of drugs both in terms of value and volume, and boasts of the second-largest number of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved medicine manufacturing plants in the world, said the Indian envoy.

Healthcare, he said, is likely to remain at the forefront of policy focus for leaders and administrators across the world for an unforeseen period of time, especially in the aftermath of COVID-19.

Under this scenario, India continues to remain a reliable partner and will not only provide uninterrupted supplies of essential drugs but also provide requisite assistance in the form of sharing medical expertise, treatment infrastructure and capacity building to other nations around the world. In this context, the ambassador said Ayushman Bharat flagship program which was launched by the Government of India in 2018 was a major National Health Protection Scheme.

It continues to be the world’s largest public health care program and provides assured holistic healthcare to millions of Indians at primary, secondary, and tertiary levels on entitlement basis.

The Indian healthcare sector is growing at a brisk pace due to its strengthening coverage, services and increasing expenditure by public as well private players. The public healthcare system which in the past comprised of limited secondary and tertiary care institutions in key cities and focused on providing basic healthcare facilities in the form of primary healthcare centers in rural areas, is expanding rapidly with new institutes and world class facilities.

The private sector which provides majority of secondary, tertiary and quaternary care institutions with a major concentration in metros, tier I and tier II cities is expanding rapidly even to smaller cities. India’s competitive advantage is pool of well-trained medical professionals, some of whom are serving in countries like Kuwait. India is also cost competitive compared to its peers in Asia and Western countries.

The cost of surgery in India is about one-tenth of that in the US or Western Europe. India is also fast emerging as a destination of medical tourism and Ayurveda treatment, attracting a large number of visitors every year including from Kuwait.

The Indian envoy also touched on several key initiatives taken by the Government of India recently to further improve business environment and augment the competitiveness of India’s pharmaceuticals sector, which is poised to attain newer heights in a post-pandemic world when the world would be turning towards India for making the best medicines to be made available to the hundreds of millions at the most affordable prices.

India and Kuwait, he said, share historical, age old, close bilateral relations which are strongly anchored in civilization linkages and nurtured by vibrant people-to-people contacts. Trade and commerce has been an important pillar of this multifaceted relationship; India has consistently been among the top trading partners of Kuwait and Kuwait has been one of the top sources of India’s energy supplies. Indian brands are well known and the exceptional quality of Indian products is well acknowledged not only in the Kuwaiti market but also across the globe.

However, the full potential of the extremely close bilateral relationship remains to be realized; especially in the domain of pharmaceuticals and other medical supplies. Taking part in the virtual conference were Dr. Abdullah Al-Bader, Assistant Undersecretary, Ministry of Health, Dr. Amir Ahmed, President of Indian Doctor’s Forum in Kuwait and other members of IDF, senior officials from Pharmexcil and Invest India, businessmen from India and Kuwait.

By Paul Francis X. Fernandes Arab Times Staff

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