Strengthening of health systems is critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). India has prioritized strengthening health systems as a non-negotiable strategy towards achieving SDGs. This was stated by Shri J P Nadda, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare during his addresses at the ‘BRICS Health Ministers’ Meeting at Tianjin, China, today. The Union Health Minister spoke on the theme – ‘Strengthen Health System and Achieve Health-Related SDGs.’ In his address, he stressed on the importance of building strong and resilient health systems and said that the case for strengthening health systems stems from the basic realization that even the most well-crafted or well-designed health interventions cannot succeed without a strengthened health system that encompasses improvements in healthcare service provision, utilization, quality and efficiency of healthcare services delivered including adoption of healthy behaviours and practices. The Health Minister further stated that the health sector adds direct economic value by expanding the number of jobs, investing in infrastructure projects and purchasing supplies needed for health-care delivery. He informed the participants that the National Health Policy, 2017 adopted by India is well aligned with the SDG-3 targets. The new policy enunciates health in all policies, comprehensive primary healthcare, organisation of public healthcare delivery, improving vaccines and drug security and progressive movement towards universal health coverage. He further added that the National Health Mission (NHM), one of the largest health programmes in the world, represents the prime vehicle to achieve the SDG-3, and in its next phase is aligning its goals with the National Health Policy 2017 and the SDG-3. Highlighting the achievements of India in the health sector, he stated that India has expanded the number of vaccines under Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP) and launched Mission Indradhanush aimed at expanding coverage by reaching the unreached. India has taken various measures to augment both number, quality and skill mix and geographical distribution to address shortage of critical health human resource such as increasing medical seats, upgradation of District Hospitals to Medical colleges in underserved areas, establishing new AIIMS. The Health Minister further informed that free dialysis services are provided free of cost to the poor under the recently launched Pradhan Mantri National Dialysis Programme which is on Public Private Partnership mode. The proposed National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS) envisages inclusion of preventive care, robust IT platform, strong grievance redressal mechanism in addition to expanding both population and benefit coverage and providing an additional coverage to senior citizens. He also stated that to address the growing burden of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) on account of premature mortality and morbidity, India has launched a universal Population-based free screening, control and management programme for five common NCDs is envisaged to translate into one of the largest population based screening and management programmes in the world in next few years. Reiterating the commitment of the Government of India, he said that India stands unwavering in its commitment towards synergizing collaboration with BRICS countries especially through the ‘BRICS Framework for Collaboration on Strategic Projects in Health’
The leaders of the 5 BRICS countries held an informal meeting on the sidelines of G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany. This was in run up to the forthcoming 9th BRICS Summit in September in Xiamen, China. President Xi of China said he looked forward to welcoming the BRICS leaders. In their interventions, the leaders discussed preparations and priorities for the forthcoming Xiamen BRICS Summit. Prime Minister mentioned that BRICS has been a strong voice and needs to show leadership on terrorism and global economy. He stressed that G20 should collectively oppose terrorism financing, franchises, safe havens, support and sponsors. Referring to reforms in India, including the recent introduction of GST, PM stated that it was necessary to work together for sustained global economic recovery. He advocated collective voice against the practices of protectionism, especially in the spheres of trade and movement of knowledge and professionals. He reiterated India’s commitment to implementing Paris Agreement in letter and spirit and described its implementation globally as essential to fighting climate change. He called for expeditious action to establish BRICS rating agency and stated that cooperation on development of Africa should be a priority. He also called for greater people-to-people exchanges. The Prime Minister appreciated momentum in BRICS under the Chairmanship of President Xi and extended full cooperation and best wishes for the BRICS Xiamen Summit. Concluding the meeting immediately after PM’s remarks, President Xi appreciated India’s strong resolve against terrorism and the momentum in BRICS introduced under India’s Chairmanship and through the outcomes of the Goa Summit in 2016. He also appreciated India’s success in economic and social development and wished India even bigger success.