Technology could prevent a local problem from transforming into a global crisis, Suresh Prabhu said

Indian Prime Minister’s Sherpa to the G7 and G20 Summit Suresh Prabhu has underscored the need to incentivize private sector and invest in Research and Development in order to improve public health.

Speaking at a panel discussion on ‘Pandemic Poser: Health and the 4IR’, at the Raisina Dialogue-2021 on Tuesday, Prabhu emphasized on the role of technology to stop a local problem from becoming a global one.

“There are 219 countries in the world that are affected by the Covid-19 pandemic today. So what does it mean? We have to definitely look at it as a local issue as 219 countries are to address it in the own territories. But at the same time, it is a global issue because it spread from one country to the other,” Prabhu remarked.

“Therefore we need to address as to how not to allow a local problem from become a global one, that is a fundamental issue, or else there will be more pandemics,” he stated.

“What is the surveillance mechanism that we have put in place when a local problem is threatening to become a global one? How do you contain it and not let it spread in the world and that is why technology has to be used,” Prime Minister’s Sherpa to G7 and G20 Summit asked.

Pointing out that the Fourth Industrial Revolution will make the use of technology more pervasive, Prabhu suggested that technology had a big role to play in preventing a local problem from transforming into a global crisis.

He felt that Covid-19 was not the last pandemic the global community will encounter.

“We need to create the right institutions and global governance frameworks to face global crisis,” Prabhu emphasized.

Highlighting the role of one such governance institution dealing with healthcare, the WHO, he called for the need to make WHO more effective.

“It cannot be a body only limited to releasing information and data. The job of WHO is to stop a local problem from affecting such number of people,” he said.

Pointing out that India had been using technology aggressively, Prabhu said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the last seven years had spread the use of technology in all parts of the country.

Pointing out that health was linked with people and economy, Prabhu said that it was impossible to deal with a problem in isolation. He called for the problem to be approached in a holistic manner, not just nationally but globally.

Prabhu was joined by Former Prime Minister of Sweden Carl Bildt, Deputy Secretary, Economy, Industry and G20 Sherpa of Australia Simon Duggan, Non-resident Fellow, Brookings Institution, USA Shamika Ravi, and Vice Speaker for Politics and Security, The House of Representatives (DPR), Indonesia Azis Syamsuddin.

Director, International Digital Health and AI Research Collaborative (I-DAR) Amandeep Gill moderated the session.