May 14: The Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi today interacted with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation co-chair, Mr. Bill Gates via video conference. The dignitaries discussed the global response to COVID-19, and the importance of global coordination on scientific innovation and R&D to combat the pandemic.
Prime Minister underlined the conscious approach that India has adopted in its fight against the health crisis – an approach based on ensuring public engagement through appropriate messaging. He explained how this people-centric bottom-up approach has helped win acceptability for physical distancing, respect for front-line workers, wearing of masks, maintaining proper hygiene, and respecting lockdown provisions.
Prime Minister also highlighted how some of the previous developmental initiatives taken by Government – expanding financial inclusion, strengthening last mile delivery of health services, popularising cleanliness and hygiene through the Swachh Bharat Mission, drawing upon India’s Ayurvedic wisdom to enhance people’s immunity, etc – had helped increase the effectiveness of India’s response to the present pandemic.
Prime Minister appreciated the health related work being done by the Gates Foundation not only in India but also in many other parts of the world, including for coordinating the global response to COVID-19. He sought suggestions from Mr. Gates on how India’s capacities and capabilities could be better leveraged for the general benefit of the world.
Some of the ideas that the dignitaries explored in this context included drawing upon India’s unique model of last-mile health service delivery in rural areas, dissemination of the effective contact-tracing mobile app developed by Government of India, and above all by leveraging India’s massive pharmaceutical capacity to scale-up the production of vaccines and therapeutics upon their discovery. They agreed that given India’s willingness and capacity to contribute to global efforts, particularly for the benefit of fellow developing countries, it was important for India to be included in the ongoing global discussions for coordinating responses to the pandemic.
In closing, Prime Minister also suggested that the Gates Foundation could take the lead in analysing the necessary changes in lifestyles, economic organisation, social behavior, modes of disseminating education and healthcare, that would emerge in the post-COVID world, and the associated technological challenges that would need to be addressed. He said that India would be happy to contribute to such an analytical exercise, based on its own experiences.