NEW DELHI: When India came at the helm of G20, the world had already switched gears, from firefighting the pandemic to Russia-Ukraine crisis and the subsequent energy, oil crises and food inflation. Countries around the world got busy working through, and overcoming, the supply-chain disruptions caused by the East European war.
After being at the centrestage of two G20 presidencies – Italy 2021 and Indonesia 2022 – the ‘imminent threat’ posed by the virus ceased to be the focus. The new focus was to build a much more resilient world, one which could tackle such threats in future. It is under these circumstances that the concept of ‘One Health’ came to the forefront of G20 agenda and it ranks the highest in India’s priorities for its yearlong presidency.
But, the recent resurgence of Covid-19 in China, Japan and South Korea has shocked the world. Eric Feigl-Ding, the top American public health scientist, epidemiologist and chief of Covid-19 Task Force has called the resurgence “thermonuclear bad”. He has estimated that approximately 60 per cent of China and 10 per cent of the global population is likely to be infected in the next three months.
If the virus sees a global resurgence, it could pose a major challenge to India’s G20 presidency. Tackling the virus would not be an issue as the majority of Indian population is already vaccinated. This time around, India is better prepared with health infrastructure and relatively more streamlined healthcare directives. But, real threat lies in the fact that the resurgence could derail the ‘One Health’ project of G20.
India has advanced exponentially, in the last decade, establishing digital healthcare infrastructure and has a lot to offer, especially to Global South – lower and middle income countries.
India’s has made path-breaking advances in digitalisation of healthcare specifically in tracing, detecting and providing care to people who does not have access to healthcare system, be it for geographic reasons or a case of affordability. These systems are in the midst of developing long-term and sustainable solutions.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has on many occasions reiterated that during India’s G20 presidency, the focus is on digital health innovation, working towards universal health coverage, upgrading healthcare infrastructure and delivery of services to the lowest strata of society and the world.
The resurgent corona virus has once again shed light on cracks in the global health governance and it is a call to bring forth and strengthen Global Health Architecture. As the world gears up once again to deal with the virus, India will have to work towards making G20 leaders realise the importance and need of universal access to health ecosystems, health financing and their linkages.
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