A group of delegates attending the third health working group meeting of G20 India in Hyderabad were impressed by Bharat Biotech’s Genome Valley plant during their visit to the facility on Tuesday, and termed it a “shining star”.
During the tour of the facility, delegates understood and observed how vaccines are made. Bharat Biotech produced the country’s first indigenous anti-Covid vaccine — Covaxin.
“It was really a great visit. We are grateful for the hospitality and it was great to see a lot of technology in action,” said Alejandro Biondi Rodriguez, a delegate from the UK.
Another delegate, Ebele Andi from the G20 Global Innovation Hub, found the entire journey story of Bharat Biotech fascinating and inspiring.
“Impressive. I was speaking to the founders of Bharat Biotech and I think their story is so compelling because they talked about coming back to India and investing time and resources to make what we see today. And the passion comes through in their story and their work.
“I think it’s a shining star and something to be incredibly proud of, especially what they have been able to produce not just in terms of vaccines and resources for India but vaccines and resources for the world,” Andi said.
#G20 delegates visited #BharatBiotech as part of the 3rd meeting of G20 Health Working Group, #Hyderabad, to promote knowledge sharing, explore innovative approaches in vaccine R&D, and foster international cooperation and coordination in the health field. #G20India #G20Summit pic.twitter.com/I62CZT5S3N
— Bharat Biotech (@BharatBiotech) June 6, 2023
— PIB in Telangana 🇮🇳 (@PIBHyderabad) June 6, 2023
“I am very grateful for giving us the opportunity to visit this vaccine manufacturing facility. It is an impressive work that India has been doing so far. The entire journey of the company from the start to the development of the vaccine during the pandemic has been inspiring,” said Sultana Mohammed Al Sabahi from the Ministry of Health of Oman.
Roshan Musa from Canada said the technologies used were very sophisticated and advanced. The vaccine development work being carried out was splendid, he added.
On the last day of the third health working group meeting of G20 India, a field trip was organised for the G20 delegates to visit the Genome Valley, which is India’s first organised cluster for Life Sciences research and development located in Hyderabad.
Showcasing innovations! #G20India delegates visited National Animal Resource Facility for Biomedical Research, Indian Council of Medical Research & @BharatBiotech at Genome Valley. They explored India's path-breaking approaches in vaccine R&D & more! #G20HWG pic.twitter.com/v9TK2aWFKS
— G20 India (@g20org) June 6, 2023
A separate group also visited the National Animal Resource Facility for Biomedical Research (NARFBR), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) facilities.
The Genome Valley alone accounts for 33 percent of the global vaccine production, including vaccines for diseases such as Covid-19, polio, and rotavirus.
The third Health Working Group meeting of the G20, held in Hyderabad on 4-6 June, witnessed detailed discussions on the implications of climate change on health, with a specific focus on anti-microbial resistance and the importance of adopting the “One-Health” framework.
The meeting emphasised India’s G20 presidency priorities in the health field.
The One-Health approach recognises the interconnectedness of human, animal and environmental health.
The other is strengthening cooperation in the pharmaceutical sector with a focus on access and availability to safe, effective, and affordable medical countermeasures.
Digital health innovations and solutions to aid universal health coverage and improve healthcare service delivery are also among the priorities of India’s G20 presidency.
“With shifts related to climate change and also the way we are living our lives on this planet today, there is a likelihood of certain new types of health emergencies. These could be new infections or infections in geographies where they did not occur earlier. Other emergencies could be those associated with extreme temperatures or triggered by floods,” said NITI Ayog Member (Health) Dr VK Paul on the sidelines of the G20 Health Working Group meeting on Monday.
“Climate change and its impact on health and human development and economics is a larger and a multi-dimensional issue that concerns us all,” he said.
Within the G20, the Health Working Group is focusing on climate change effects on the One-Health system, he said.
Minimising digital health divide
Niti Aayog member (Health) Dr VK Paul on Monday said India is committed to minimising the digital health divide by promoting digital solutions and innovation to aid universal health coverage.
Addressing an event related to the 3rd Health Working Group of G20 India in Hyderabad, Paul said India’s digital goods are for the world and that the country’s digital infrastructure and capabilities are enablers of global economic growth and human development.
He gave the keynote address for the event titled ‘Digital Health Innovations and Solutions to Aid Universal Health Coverage and Improve Healthcare Service Delivery’ during the second day of the G20 meet in Hyderabad.
“India as the voice of Global South is committed to minimising the digital health divide by promoting digital solutions and innovation to aid universal health coverage,” Paul said.
Quoting a previous statement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Digital India, Paul said, “I dream of a digital India with quality healthcare accessible right up to the remotest regions powered by e-healthcare.”
He said deliberations in the health working groups suggest that digital technologies can play a very critical role in achieving universal health coverage and combating health emergencies.
Digital health, through initiatives such as telemedicine and mobile apps, can enable universal health coverage by increasing access to people irrespective of location or socio-economic status, he said.
The G20 Health Working Group is deliberating to create a global digital health initiative to provide a platform to promote equitable access to digital tools and technologies among the countries concerned towards ensuring universal health coverage, he added.
Speaking at the meeting, Dr Christopher Elias, President, Global Development, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said the world has seen momentum in development of lower and middle-income countries in the last decade, especially after the Covid pandemic.
World Health Organisation official Dr Alain Labrique said “quality, efficiency, equity, and inclusion” of global health systems will depend on how the group works together.
“We must as a group invest strategically. This will enable a cross-border exchange of credential health information now available to all member states,” said Dr Labrique, Director, Department of Digital Health and Innovation, WHO.
(With PTI inputs)