Prime Minister Narendra Modi late on Thursday interacted with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation co-chair, Bill Gates via video conference and discussed issues ranging from India’s efforts to fight Coronavirus, work of the Gates Foundation in battling COVID-19, role of technology, innovation and producing a vaccine to cure the pandemic.
The two also discussed the global response to COVID-19, and the importance of global coordination on scientific innovation and R&D to combat the pandemic.
PM Modi 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 also explained how this people-centric bottom-up approach has helped win acceptability for physical distancing, respect for frontline workers, wearing of masks, maintaining proper hygiene, and respecting lockdown provisions.
Prime Minister also highlighted some of the previous developmental initiatives taken by Government such 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, and detailed how these measures had helped increase the effectiveness of India’s response to the present pandemic.
PM Modi, in the video conference, further appreciated the health related work being done by the Gates Foundation in India and other parts of the world, including for coordinating global response to COVID-19. He also sought suggestions from Gates on how India’s capacities and capabilities could be better leveraged for the general benefit of the world.
The dignitaries explored some of the ideas in this context. This 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 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 his conclusion, PM Modi suggested that the Gates Foundation could take the lead in analysing the necessary changes in lifestyles, economic organisation, social behaviour, 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 added that India would be happy to contribute to such an analytical exercise, based on its own experiences.
Following the meeting, philanthropist Bill Gates thanked Prim Minister Modi for the conversation and partnership to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
In a tweet, Gates said: “India’s role is key as the world works to minimize social and economic impact, and pave the way to vaccine, testing, and treatment access for all.”