Mansukh Mandaviya at Express Adda: No poor person should die in this country for lack of treatment | India News,The Indian Express
At the latest edition of Express Adda, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya spoke on behind-the-scenes of India’s mammoth vaccine drive, preventive health modules and how the digital health mission can make treatment both accessible and affordable.
At the latest edition of Express Adda, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya spoke on behind-the-scenes of India’s mammoth vaccine drive, preventive health modules and how the digital health mission can make treatment both accessible and affordable
I don’t see the success only through the prism of vaccine administration. India’s story is built on vaccine research, developing of indigenous resources, manufacturing, administration and delivery. In short, it defines Atmanirbhar Bharat. When over 2.5 crore doses were administered by midnight on September 17, making it the highest single-day vaccination, it was a personal milestone.
I’m from a village, where to hear of a vaccine was itself a big deal. Getting vaccinated was a mammoth challenge. Today, vaccines are available in villages. About 73 per cent of the rural population has been vaccinated.
That is the USP of PM Narendra Modi. When the Covid crisis began, people had apprehensions about the quality of a home-grown vaccine, whether we’d be able to vaccinate the entire population within given timelines. But Mr Modi told us to fight the crisis in mission mode, in the spirit of sewa, and not be blinded by political fights. Our goals were specific and single-minded: speedy vaccination of citizens, scaling up vaccine manufacturing and financially supporting manufacturing companies. I was the Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilisers then and the Department of Pharmaceutical was part of my portfolio. I visited each plant and personally documented their strengths, weaknesses, requirements and worked out ways to escalate production. Many companies had the scientists and capacity to produce in bulk but no facilities. So we linked them with companies that had them. We sourced raw material and our production volumes increased to three times. Today, 98 per cent of the population (18 and above), have been administered the first dose while 91 per cent have received both doses. The precaution dose is ongoing. We’ve also exported vaccines and supported other countries. Indian manufacturers didn’t think of profit. Rather, we supplied quality medicines at affordable prices. Vaccines, which cost $20-25 globally, were provided for $4-5. The kind of fear and deaths during the second wave, were seen in the third wave, too, in many countries. But we had already carried out the vaccinations, so we got saved. At around 1,50,000 vaccination centres per day, there were enough vaccinators, syringes. Our drive was an example of best-management practices. That’s why the world praised us. Bill Gates congratulated our Covid management efforts at the World Economic Forum. When Covid began, the PM assessed that we didn’t have a dearth of brainpower and manpower but lack of faith in our scientists. We trusted them.
We didn’t stop anyone from coming into the country. We just asked them to get the registration done in India to sell their vaccines but they had reservations. There was a clause to remove indemnity and sovereign guarantees but we insisted on compliance with local rules and regulations. Besides, by then Indian companies had begun mass-scale production, so they won the race.