Stating that a vision to create ‘Harvard in India’ could be achieved with the existing medical institutes in Parel, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Thursday said institutes must start coordinating and linking their latest research to create a cluster of excellence in health and medicine.
Harsh Vardhan was in Mumbai to inaugurate a three-day international conference for women’s reproductive health. He referred to Tata Memorial Hospital, KEM hospital, Haffkine Institute, National Institute of Research in Reproductive Health (NIRRH) and National Institute of Immunohaematology, all located in narrow lanes of Parel, and said, “I visited that area today. In this digital era, everyone should know the latest research to help each other. PhD students can benefit and share knowledge. In a set time frame we can work to improve coordination of all these institutes so that they become a cluster of excellence,” Harsh Vardhan said.
He added that three women-centric Bills, on surrogacy, assisted reproductive technology and medical termination of pregnancy, have been approved by the cabinet and will be passed in the upcoming session. “These are three historic legislations that will be passed by Parliament over next few weeks,” the minister said.
The NIRRH, a branch of the Indian Council of Medical Research, that works on infertility and reproductive health, is celebrating its golden jubilee this year. Harsh Vardhan released a booklet for the institute on deceased physician Subhas Mukherjee, who was the first to perform a successful in-vitro fertilisation in 1978 in Kolkata, but ended his life after his work was not recognised in 1981. “His passion for research should continue. It is a loss that he died at the age of 50. He is a source of inspiration and this institute must continue its work in infertility and reproductive health like him,” Harsh Vardhan said.
Referring to polio eradication campaign that made India polio free in 2014, Harsh Vardhan said the ministry is facing difficulty in reaching the last mile when it comes to neonatal mortality, tuberculosis and diarrhoea deaths and there is need for research on these fronts to drastically reform the programme. “In universal immunisation programme, a child is entitled to all vaccines. No death should happen due to diarrhoea,” he said.
On sidelines of the event, Harsh Vardhan also spoke about India’s preparations for Covid-19, that has led to over 2,100 deaths in China. “All ministries are working together to control the epidemic. Just like we ensured Ebola, and Nipah did not convert into an epidemic, even Coronavirus will be contained. The ministry is ensuring steady supply of medicines,” Harsh Vardhan said.
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