Over 200 radio professionals and audio journalists from across India, learnt about the priorities of the G20 Health Track, during a virtual meet co-hosted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and UNICEF earlier this week.
Lav Agarwal, Additional Secretary (Health), MoHFW, GoI, explained the three priorities – Emergency Preparedness, Medical CounterMeasures, and Digital Health. He urged the radio professionals to create programming around them and stressed that these priorities are vital for achieving Universal Health Coverage in India and beyond.
The first priority involves strengthening national capacities to prevent, prepare and respond to major outbreaks, with a focus on a ‘One Health’ approach and Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR). The second priority aims to ensure equitable access to quality vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics through cooperation in the pharmaceutical sector. The third priority is to use digital health innovations and solutions to aid universal health coverage.
“With its ability to reach remote and marginalized communities, radio can be instrumental in spreading awareness and education about the various health facilities and policies and create demand for them. As India takes its place in the G20, radio can also serve as a platform for sharing best practices and learning from other countries’ experiences, thus accelerating progress towards common health goals,” added Agarwal.
The Additional Secretary lauded radio’s contribution during the Covid-19 pandemic for producing creative programmes to create awareness around the disease and vaccines and sharing success stories of frontline health workers.
He said the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of digital health technologies in enabling citizens to access healthcare, especially in remote areas. He cited the example of the COWIN app, which millions of Indians used to access the vaccine programme, and the eSanjeevani telemedicine service, which has been used by over 100 million citizens.
Agarwal emphasized that India, as the current President of the G20, is committed to promoting the concept of Digital Health Public Goods to address issues of the digital divide. He said that the government will ensure Indian software for health is available as open-source software across the world and will identify manufacturing sites across the world for diagnostics and vaccines.
Speaking at the event, Zafrin Chowdhury, Chief of Communication, Advocacy and Partnerships, UNICEF India, encouraged radio to prioritize health messaging and work together with policymakers, health experts, and communities to build a healthier and more equitable world. “By leveraging the reach of radio and other communication channels, we can ensure that people know about the digital health initiatives India has taken and they benefit from it. Through radio, you can also put out the voice of G20 and India’s leadership role in advocating for stronger global collaborations and partnerships to improve healthcare access and delivery through digital solutions,” she added.
UNICEF is extending support to the G20 Health Secretariat at the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, GoI to create awareness about India’s G20 Health track priorities.
The author is Communication Officer (Media), UNICEF.
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