India will focus on developing new vaccines to fight new diseases surfacing worldwide, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said soon after taking charge on Friday.
"India is a big developing country and why should we depend on western countries for vaccines? Why should we take technology from them? We have to take a proactive initiative to make new vaccines to fight new diseases resurfacing in the past few years like swine flu, bird flu, dengue and many others," Azad told reporters after assuming office at the ministry at Nirman Bhawan.
"God forbid, if a major disease outbreak happens in India, it will have a major impact because of the large population and we don't have better infrastructure to deal with it," he said.
Emphasising that discovering new vaccines has been a challenge worldwide, he said: "We have to fight new diseases and discovering vaccine has been the main focus of medicos and scientists in the past few years.
"I was the only politician who suffered dengue twice. It is a challenge worldwide to introduce new vaccines for diseases these diseases," said Azad, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister.
"My other priorities include strengthening the National Rural health Mission (NRHM) and setting up a National Urban Health Mission (NUHM) for people living in urban slums. I want to send the NUHM proposal to the cabinet for approval.
"I am happy that I have been given the health ministry so that I can serve the poor people of the country," said Azad who has been in charge of the civil aviation ministry in the past.
The health ministry will work towards setting up six institutes on the lines of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and 13 other medical institutes across country, Azad added.