Union Minister Piyush Goyal called upon the G-20 nations to ensure access to essential medicines, treatments and vaccines at affordable prices

India has “unconditionally” supplied medical supplies to more than 120 countries to combat the coronavirus disease. Of these countries, 43 received medicines and other medical supplies as a grant.

This was informed by Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal during his participation at the virtual meet of G-20 trade ministers on Thursday.

Widely regarded as the ‘Pharmacy of the World’, India is also proactively partnering in global efforts to develop vaccines and effective treatment for this disease, the Union Minister said, adding that in pursuance of its age-old tradition of “Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam,” (the world is one big family), India has not only provided unconditionally provided medical supplies to over 120 countries to combat this disease, but also $10 million Covid-19 Emergency Fund has been created and is being utilized to deliver urgent medical supplies, equipment and humanitarian assistance to our neighbours.

India is also sharing medical and public health expertise and capacity with SAARC countries, using digital technologies.

Sharing a piece of information on India’s capabilities and commitment, the Union Minister said “When the pandemic broke out, India barely produced a few thousand pieces of Personal Protective Equipment. We had never needed PPEs in large numbers ever before. When we realised that countries were not able to supply enough for our needs, our domestic manufacturers created and ramped up capacities. So much so, that we now produce nearly 300,000 PPEs every day.”

Talking about ‘Aatma Nirbhar Bharat’ mission and infusion of over $266 billion stimulus package, he said, “Our future will be crafted on five pillars – a strong and vibrant economy, massive infrastructure development, building modern systems with stable and predictable regulatory practices, leveraging the huge demographic dividend our democracy offers and the growing demand for goods and services of 1.3 billion Indians.”

The Union Minister called upon the G-20 nations to ensure access to essential medicines, treatments and vaccines at affordable prices. He asked the member countries to first focus on immediate and concrete actions that can ease the distress being faced by people all over the world due to Corona pandemic.

He strongly called for agreement to enable the use of TRIPs flexibilities to ensure access to essential medicines, treatments and vaccines at affordable prices. He also called upon the G-20 nations to also agree to provide diagnostic and protective equipment, and healthcare professionals across borders where they are most needed.

He said doing away with the policy instrument of export restrictions is not a panacea that will guarantee access to medical products and food for all. In fact, such a step is likely to lead to a flight of these critical products to the highest bidder, making them inaccessible to the resource-poor, he said.

More effective and lasting way to ensure food security of the most vulnerable, would be by agreeing to eliminate the historic asymmetries in the Agreement on Agriculture, and delivering on the long-standing Ministerial mandate to establish permanent, adequate and accessible disciplines on Public Stockholding for food security purposes by the 12th Ministerial Conference of the WTO, he added.

Underscoring the wide digital divide between developed and developing countries, the Union Minister stressed on the urgent need to build the digital skills and capacities of developing countries and LDCs, rather than rushing to make binding rules on digital trade and e-commerce, which will freeze the extremely non-level playing field against their interests, and deprive them of the opportunity to benefit from the immense potential in these areas.

IVD Bureau