Bill Gates, the co-chair of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), on Monday meet Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan and they presided over the signing of an Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) between the Minister of Health and Family Welfare in Delhi. In the presence of both, a cooperation agreement was signed between the Ministry of Health and the Gates Foundation. The MoC was signed by Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary (International Health) from the ministry and M Hari Menon, Director of India Country Office, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). At the meeting, Vardhan highlighted the strides being taken by the government in providing universal health coverage to its citizens and the contribution of Ayushman Bharat with its pillars of health and wellness centres and Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojna. The foundation will support the Health Ministry’s work towards strengthening the primary health aspects such as reducing maternal and child mortality, improving nutrition services and increasing the immunization reach.Efforts will be made to increase access to family planning measures among younger women and reduce the burden of select infectious diseases like tuberculosis, visceral leishmaniasis and lymphatic filariasis under the National Digital Blue Print Framework.
In the presence of both, a cooperation agreement was signed between the Ministry of Health and the Gates Foundation.
He said, “Our future visionary Prime Minister Narendra Modi has envisaged the creation of a new India by 2022, which will ensure universal health facilities for all. Our efforts and initiatives are in this direction. “Our association with Gates Foundation has been a long and fruitful one, be it for polio eradication or increasing immunisation coverage. However, now is the time to work together for providing Universal Health Coverage (UHC) to all our countrymen with an effective and quality-driven primary healthcare system. “We recognise the importance of adopting innovative approaches that will not only address the gaps in the system but also build on all that we have achieved so far,” Vardhan said.He said that the Sahyong agreement with the Gates Foundation would be beneficial for both. The work will also include strengthening of supply chains and monitoring systems while focusing on budget utilization, management and skills of human resources for health, ultimately bolstering the entire health system, the statement stated. Supporting the initiatives undertaken by the Health Ministry, Gates said, “The Ministry of Health has put forward an ambitious vision to improve the primary healthcare system in this country especially for women and children. Our foundation supports that goal, and we want to partner with India to achieve it. That’s why we are very happy to sign this Memorandum of Cooperation today. As part of the cooperation agreement, The Gates Foundation will work closely with the government to focus on innovation, best practices and performance management, and through its other partners to provide technical, management and program design support. The Gates Foundation will support the ministry’s work towards strengthening primary health aspects such as reducing maternal and child mortality, improving nutritional services and increasing vaccination access. Several senior officials of the ministry including Hashvardhan were also present at the meeting.