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PM’s vision brought health, pharma under single minister: Mansukh Mandaviya

The minister elaborated that the regulatory body, Drugs Controller General of India, is under the health ministry although its work comes under pharma.

By: Express News Service | Gandhinagar |
December 19, 2021 2:30:04 am
Mansukh Mandaviya, narendra modi, modi, Gujarat, Gujarat news, Ahmedabad news, Indian express news, Indian expressHealth Minister Mansukh Mandaviya speaks in the Lok Sabha during ongoing Winter Session of Parliament, in New Delhi, Friday, Dec 10, 2021. (LSTV/PTI Photo)

Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya Saturday credited Prime Minister Narendra Modi for bringing the health and pharmaceutical ministries under a single minister. “Modiji, for the first time, entrusted health as well as pharma ministries in one person. This is so beneficial because all policy (niti) of health is dependent on pharma and vice versa,” Mandaviya said addressing an inaugural programme on holistic healthcare with a focus on pharmaceuticals and medical devices at a pre-Vibrant Gujarat Summit.

The minister elaborated that the regulatory body, Drugs Controller General of India, is under the health ministry although its work comes under pharma. “So, when I was the pharma minister (chemicals minister), if I would put forth a proposal (before the DCGI), I would have again to go to the health minister for approval. With both combined, it has become holistic because Modiji saw everything in totality,” he said.

The Union Minister further said health was never seen as a factor of development. “Health was always perceived as treatment. Modiji has linked development to the health sector. He started Ayushman Bharat, and health and wellness centres. Modiji thought comprehensively and increased MBBS seats that will go up to one lakh so as to strengthen the tertiary health system at the district level. When he became the PM, there were 6 AIIMS, now the 12th has started,” Mandviya said at the event held at Pandit Deendayal Energy University at Gandhinagar.

In July, as the country was easing out of the second wave of the pandemic and entering the mucormycosis epidemic, the portfolio of health and family welfare was handed over to Mandaviya following Harsh Vardhan’s resignation ahead of the cabinet shuffle. Prior to it, Mandaviya held the independent charge as Minister of State for chemicals and fertilizers from 2019, which he continues to hold.

Mandaviya also pitched for Gujarat and India as investment destinations, especially in the pharma sector. “The number of people in the middle-class bracket is increasing rapidly and the Union government is introducing schemes for healthcare accessibility. Due to Ayushman Bharat, 10 crore families, or 50 crore people, can access affordable healthcare facilities. I’ve seen it myself how poor families forego treatment because of cost so that their kids’ education is not stopped or their daughters’ weddings are not hindered or delayed. With Ayushman Bharat, people are buying medicines, which is an opportunity for the pharma sector,” he said.

Mandaviya said there were two opportunities for the sector. “One is to scale-up in India and second, exports. After Covid-19, everyone wants to invest in India as their first priority.”

Acknowledging the delay faced by industries in securing approvals for conducting the necessary research, Mandaviya said, “When Modiji called for a meeting with industrialists, many industries said they want to do research but they don’t get the necessary permissions for up to three years in India. DCGI ensured to remedy this and make approvals simpler. Owing to this, in nine months, research was done and the production of the Covid vaccine was also done,” he said referring to Covaxin jointly developed by Bharat Biotech and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

At the event, DCGI VG Somani lauded Gujarat’s machinery that was rolling out a “very well-structured innovation pipeline”. “The entire machinery, be it politicking, bureaucracy or FDCA (Food and Drugs Control Administration) Gujarat, they value time, quality and demands — local, national and global. The way shown by Gujarat to access affordable medicines is being keenly watched by the whole world. Gujarat has the potential to meet 50 per cent of the demand of India and 20 per cent of the world, provided they take steps to reduce dependency on APIs (active pharmaceutical ingredient) and KSMs (key starting materials). It needs to take further steps to innovate and other issues such as pollution-related matters, which does not get fast-tracked,” he said.

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