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Sunday, Sep 22, 2019

Union health minister Harsh Vardhan reinforces malaria eradication as top priority for govt

The minister added that the government wants to eliminate tuberculosis (TB) by 2025 even as international target set by the World Health Organisation (WHO) is 2030.

pune Updated: Sep 10, 2019 15:37 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Pune
Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla (left) and Natasha Poonawalla (right), executive director of the institute, with Harsh Vardhan, Union minister for health, and Nutan Vardhan (foreground), his wife, at the launch of a manufacturing unit of Serum Institute of India in Pune on Monday.
Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla (left) and Natasha Poonawalla (right), executive director of the institute, with Harsh Vardhan, Union minister for health, and Nutan Vardhan (foreground), his wife, at the launch of a manufacturing unit of Serum Institute of India in Pune on Monday.(Shankar Narayan/HT)
         

Union health minister Harsh Vardhan, speaking in Pune on Monday, declared malaria eradication as a top priority for his ministry, underlining the government’s resolve to also eliminate diseases like tuberculosis, encephalitis and “kala azar” (black fever - visceral leishmaniasis).

Speaking on the sidelines of the inauguration of a new vaccine research and development centre at the Serum Institute of India in Pune, Vardhan said, “Besides Malaria, we are also aiming to eradicate leprosy, encephalitis and kala azar. These are on a high priority. Malaria is one of the topmost priorities.”

The minister added that the government wants to eliminate tuberculosis (TB) by 2025 even as international target set by the World Health Organisation (WHO) is 2030.

Speaking about regulatory hurdles faced by Indian vaccine manufacturers, the minister said the government is keen on strengthening the business for everyone; not only for the vaccine manufacturers. “If there are any genuine issues or concerns about vaccines for anybody in this country, the government will certainly try to resolve them quite positively,” he said. 

Jammu and Kashmir healthy 

Vardhan also spoke about health challenges in Jammu and Kashmir and steps will be taken for it.  

“There are no such specific issues in J&K, but certainly, the government is very keen and determined to strengthen the new Jammu and Kashmir in the next five years with health facilities. Now it has become a full-fledged system where obstacles are been removed. I can promise that after five years in every field there will be so much in J&K,” said the minister.

Serum institute

Speaking about Serum institute, Vardhan said, “When I took over as health minister in 2014, I met Cyrus Poonawalla and since then, we have an excellent coordination between us. I have a strong bonding with vaccines, being an otorhinolaryngologist (ENT) and working on the polio vaccination extensively when I was health minister of Delhi,” Vardhan said.

Vardhan, who has written a book entitled ‘A Tale of Two Drops’, on making India polio free, further said, “It is a story about my journey towards polio vaccination. I get emotional about the subject as I have attachment to vaccines and Serum Institute is doing well in this sector.”

First Published: Sep 09, 2019 17:59 IST