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Indo-US Bilateral Meeting Held on Health Issues

New Delhi

A high level delegation from the United States led by United States Secretary of Health and Human Services, Ms Kathleen Sebelius, today met the Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad for a bilateral meeting on health issues. The hour long discussions focused on the progress of the US India Health Initiative launched in 2010. Shri Azad welcomed the delegation and reaffirmed the ongoing cooperation in the field of health “but also to find new avenues to further broaden and deepen the commitment to ensure better health at affordable costs for our people”. Shri Azad said that Government of India has been implementing health care reforms in the field of infrastructure, human resources, health research and disease surveillance with the intention of providing better service delivery at grass root levels. Expressing satisfaction particularly at the progress of Polio containment efforts, Shri Azad said “we are excited and hopeful, at the same time, vigilant and alert”.

The Health Initiative is an inter-agency umbrella organizing mechanism for bilateral discussions between the United States and India on health collaborations and program implementation. To take the agenda further, four Working Groups had been constituted namely Working group on Non Communicable Diseases, Working group on Infectious diseases, Working group on Maternal and Child Health and Working group on Strengthening Health System and Services. These Working Groups include representatives from the US side as well as Indian side.

The Working groups have been discussing ways of leveraging each other’s strengths on identified areas – like the Working group on Non Communicable Diseases has discussed issues of Tobacco control, Cancer control, Human resources, mental health and prevention as areas of collaboration. The Working group on Infectious diseases has been deliberating on vaccination preventable diseases, innovations in technology whereas the Working group on Maternal and Child Health has been focusing on Human resources for MCH response, registries of vital records like the Mother and Child Tracking System. The Working group on Strengthening Health System and Services discussed issues on public and private health care, management information system etc.

The Indo-US collaboration has successfully taken place in the last several decades in the areas of medical research such as tuberculosis, nutrition, cancer, neurosciences, mental health, maternal and child health, HIV/AIDS, environmental and occupational health. This collaboration has led to infrastructure strengthening, transfer of technology and publication of several scientific findings. As a follow up of joint statements and joint working groups, particularly in the last twelve years, more than 450 research projects in various areas of health research have been pursued. Collaboration with institutes resulting in agreements such as the India-US agreement on Global Disease Detection Programme has been useful in capacity building, training and strengthening of services.