Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday that life-savers like medicines, vaccines and medical devices were weaponised during the COVID-19 pandemic, and asserted that his government has been consistently trying to minimise India’s dependence on foreign countries in the health sector.
Addressing a post-budget webinar on ‘Health and Medical Research’, Modi said India’s health sector was marred by a lack of integrated approach and long-term vision for decades but his government has not confined it to the health ministry alone and has dealt with it with the “whole of government” outlook.
Our entrepreneurs should ensure India doesn’t have to import any technology and becomes self-reliant, he said, highlighting various measures taken by his government to boost entrepreneurship in the field.
The prime minister said making treatment affordable has been a top priority, adding that the ‘Ayushman Bharat’, a government health insurance scheme, and ‘Jan Aushadhi’ centres, where medicines are sold at cheaper rates, have saved citizens Rs 80,000 crore and Rs 20,000 crore respectively.
The country’s pharma sector earned global confidence during the pandemic, Modi said, urging the sector to build and capitalise on the trust.
The health sector should be seen with a pre-Covid and post-Covid dividing line, he said, noting that the pandemic showed that even developed systems of prosperous countries are destroyed during such a crisis.
His government is not focusing on health care alone but overall wellness of citizens, he said.
Now critical health care infrastructure is being taken to tier 2 cities and smaller habitations, leading to the development of a health ecosystem there, he said.
The government is also focusing on ensuring that people get treatment, including testing facilities, near their homes, he added.