New Union health minister Mandaviya dynamic: ICMR chief

NITI Aayog member VK Paul emphasised that the solution for pandemic response, whether in the present or in the future, lies in science, imploring for greater investment in science.

Welcoming the recent Cabinet shuffle where Mansukh Mandaviya was made the Union health minister, ICMR director general Dr Balram Bhargava praised him as “dynamic” adding that until now the health sector had been “facing a bipolar focus”.

NITI Aayog member VK Paul emphasised that the solution for pandemic response, whether in the present or in the future, lies in science, imploring for greater investment in science.

The two were speaking at a plenary session on ‘Future directive for Covid in India: Public Health Policy’ at a one-day virtual international conference on ‘Covid and Beyond’, organised by Collaboration to Eliminate Tuberculosis among Indians and Indian Institute of Public Health Gandhingar.

Emphasising that because of the pandemic, “health has become an important agenda,” Bhargava said, “We have started realising what is quality health… and we have a dynamic health minister who has already met with all of us and has a very strong vision about how the health sector has to be taken forward because until now it has been facing a bipolar focus as to whether it has to be more government or more private or government… in the sense, both have to exist but we need to realise the pyramid of healthcare….”

Paul also added that there is a consensus that “investment in health, public health system, science and technology, health products such as vaccines and biomedical products and medicines is very critical.”

Highlighting that viral infections are slowly becoming a frequent occurrence — with Zika, MERS, SARS, Nipah outbreaks — Bhargav cautioned that Covid-19 is a “wake up call for all of us”. The probable reasons for such outbreaks can possibly be attributed to the world being “at a critical point where we have been playing with the environment, the ecosystem, ecology, there has been rapid urbanisation, rapid connectivity with people traveling, but public health remains neglected and there is inadequate spending on public health across the world.”

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