Washington: Observing that efforts to develop a global pandemic preparedness system are yet to gain full momentum, a top Indian official has told the American pharma industry that a sustained political will and investment are key to ensure that the healthcare supply chain can effectively respond to a future crisis.
Participating in a panel discussion on Wednesday at the India US BioPharma Health Summit, the former NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant underlined the need for geographical diversification of manufacturing in different regions and improved stockpiles and inventory management.
He emphasised the requirement for a platform for data sharing and enhanced transparency, which he said was lacking during the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that information sharing across public and private partners requires great effort.
“Although partnerships and national efforts somewhat blunted the severity of supply chain disruptions during the pandemic, the effort to develop a global pandemic preparedness system has yet to gain full momentum,” Kant, presently India’s G20 Sherpa during its Presidency year, said at the summit organised by the US India Chambers of Commerce.
“We need sustained political will, and investment is needed to ensure that the global healthcare supply chain can effectively respond to a future crisis,” he said, noting that under India’s G20 Presidency, efforts will be made on global collaboration to combat future pandemics.
“The good news is that we’ve learned a lot in the past two decades before the COVID with SARS and Ebola…. This will require a lot of political will and sustained financing over a long period,” he said, adding that funding should not dry up as memories fade and priorities shift because a crisis of this nature rises once in a lifetime.
Underscoring the need to foster the free flow of goods, he said, “During the COVID period, we saw several governments impose restrictions on exports, which played a significant role in actually worsening product distribution shortages and therefore fostering the free flow of goods is important.”
He noted the need for a coordinated early warning system for disease outbreaks. “Ultimately, there is a very, very huge focus, which we all need to lay on strengthening health systems and better primary care for the future,” Kant said, asserting that in G-20, India has put this at the heart of the challenge.
“The G-20 countries, during our presidency, really feel that focusing on all those areas, health emergencies, prevention, preparedness and response is the number one priority,” Kant said.
“The G-20 members are sharing the responsibility of providing health security to citizens that we need to encourage and promote innovation, global partnerships and knowledge sharing amongst the global scientific community,” he said.
“This is really the key to my mind, and that is what we’ve laid a massive focus on,” Kant added.
Kant said the pandemic demonstrated the need for global collaboration and partnership in drugs, vaccine development, climate research and health data analytics to provide solutions.
“During the COVID, we could do it at a fast pace. We could do this in India. We need to continuously see that this enhances the ability to deliver at a faster pace improves constantly. So these are the key areas which the G-20 is focusing on global collaboration as the key area for future pandemics is an absolute must with the G-20 is focusing on,” Kant said.
Responding to a question, Kant said that G-20 has to foster a collaborative partnership to be able to provide health security to citizens in moments of crisis.
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