Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Wednesday called for a sense of urgency in dealing with the new surge in COVID cases and to apply the lessons of the past waves of the pandemic.
"We must consider it our Dharma and Kartavya to follow the Covid protocol at all times - wearing a mask, maintaining physical distancing and getting vaccinated, and secure ourselves and our community", he emphasized.
According to a press statement from the Vice President's Secretariat, noting the importance of the measure to vaccinate age groups 15-18 years, Mr Naidu urged parents of the children in the newly eligible age groups to get their wards vaccinated at the earliest. He called upon public-minded individuals, social advocacy groups, medical professionals and the government to reach out to as many people as possible and get rid of any vaccine hesitancy that may be stopping India in its collective fight against the pandemic.
In a recorded inaugural message for the 15th Global Health Summit organized by the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), the Vice President praised Indian-origin medical professionals for "making their mark in every corner of the world" and being the "personification of our nation's civilisational value of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam".
He observed that in the US in particular, Indian-origin physicians have gained a formidable reputation and that several of them occupy the top administrative positions in the country. "They are among the most successful ambassadors of India's value systems", he added.
Noting that Indian firms have collaborated with US-based organisations to produce the recently approved vaccines -- Corbevax and Covovax, the Vice President said "this experience clearly shows India-US collaboration in healthcare can reap great benefits not only for our countries, but for the entire world".
In the message, the Vice President expressed concern that while urban areas have technology in tertiary care that attract international patients, it is worrisome that rural areas are lagging behind with limited access to even primary care.
To bridge this, along with other measures, Mr Naidu suggested seriously exploring the use of telehealth and other technological solutions in reaching out better to rural and remote areas. "This will expand the utilisation of our limited manpower and health infrastructure to reach the last mile," he said.
In this regard, he noted a welcome trend of many health-tech start-ups in India and suggested scaling up their healthcare services for rural areas, so that the geographical barriers may be overcome and out-of-pocket expenditures are rationalized. He observed that Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission, with a digitised record of the patient's medical history, will boost these efforts.
Mr Naidu lauded the state of Telangana for excelling in the recently released NITI Aayog's Fourth Edition of State Health Index. He expressed happiness that Telangana is also in the top three states in the year-on-year incremental performance in health outcomes.
The Vice President complimented AAPI for its services in India - for raising USD 5 million during the second wave of the pandemic, for its 'Adopt a Village' programme, among its other initiatives.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)