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Vardhan emphasises universal health coverage in the quest to meet Sustainable Development Goals

The flag of India and a stethoscope. The concept of medicine. Stethoscope on the flag in the background.The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) necessitate that universal health coverage be achieved, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan has asserted. 

“Universal health coverage is key to the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 agenda and to which India is firmly committed,” the Minister said at an event in New Delhi earlier this week. “Access to medical products and creating an enabling legal and trade environment for the public are critical to achieving the SDGs.” 

Inaugurating the 2019 World Conference on Access to Medical Products: Achieving the SDGs 2030, Vardhan said that “efficient healthcare delivery systems providing equitable, affordable and easily accessible healthcare is at the heart of all our efforts” under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He emphasised the need for “innovative thinking around issues surrounding provisioning of affordable, quality medical products as part of public healthcare delivery systems”, hoping that such thinking would be “[spurred]” by the Conference. 

The event was attended by a number of international dignitaries including World Health Organization Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who joined the inauguration via videoconferencing. He noted the rising tide of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and ageing populations worldwide were placing greater strains on healthcare systems and increasing the need for long-term care (given that many NCDs are chronic in nature and require lifelong management) in addition to the rising cost of healthcare. 

“Advances in medical technologies every day gives hope to people for better healthcare,” Ghebreyesus said. “This simultaneously increases the pressure for providing affordable medical care. Through our efforts we shall continue to put people first.” 

Concurring, Vardhan said “we must optimally develop a robust system of sharing knowledge and other resources and to practically translate discussions held at this World Conference for larger public welfare.” 

On Twitter, Vardhan described the Conference as “an opportunity for the world to come together and discuss new approaches in the innovation landscape in medical products, medicines, vaccines, diagnostics and devices for achieving Universal Health Coverage and the SDG 2030 goals.”

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