ASHWIN 18022021-167

As the world navigates the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and looks towards a more sustainable and equitable future, the role of India in shaping the global health agenda is more important than ever. As the current G20 president, India has a unique opportunity to lead the way in advancing health and well-being for all.

Health to well-being: One key area in which India can make a significant impact is in shifting the focus from health to well-being. While traditional approaches to health have focused primarily on the absence of disease, a well-being approach recognizes that good health encompasses much more than physical health alone. This includes factors such as social, emotional, and financial well-being, all of which are closely intertwined with overall health and quality of life. By prioritizing wellbeing, India can help set a new global standard for health that is more comprehensive, inclusive, and sustainable.

Digital health: Another important area in which India can lead is in championing digital health. With a rapidly growing technology sector and a large population of digital natives, India is well-positioned to leverage digital technologies to improve access to health services, enhance the quality of care, and reduce costs. This includes utilizing telemedicine, mobile health apps, and other digital tools to expand access to health services in remote and underserved areas, as well as using data analytics and artificial intelligence to improve the delivery of care.

Financial access: India’s flagship healthcare program, Ayushmaan Bharat, which aims to provide comprehensive health coverage to all citizens, can also be shared as a public good with the world. Through this program, India has made significant strides in expanding access to health services and reducing financial barriers to care. By sharing its knowledge and expertise with other countries, India can help promote universal health coverage and improve health outcomes around the globe.

Health education at an early age: Another critical area that India can focus on is ensuring that health is taught in schools. By including health education as a core component of the curriculum, students can learn about healthy lifestyle choices, disease prevention, and the importance of seeking care when needed. This will not only benefit the students themselves but also the society as whole.

Leverage indigenous knowledge: Finally, India can leverage its rich indigenous health knowledge to contribute to the global health agenda. Traditional Indian medicine, including Ayurveda, Yoga and Unani medicine, offers a wealth of knowledge and practices that can be used to prevent and treat disease. By promoting and integrating these practices into the health system, India can help to preserve and expand this valuable knowledge for future generations.

Upskill the health workforce: India could use its position as a member of the G20 to lead the agenda on healthcare workforce development by advocating for the importance of investing in the education and training of health workers, particularly at the community health worker-level. India could also share its own experiences and best practices in healthcare workforce development with other G20 member countries, to help them improve their own systems.

In conclusion, India has a unique opportunity as the G20 president to shape the global health agenda and create a more equitable, sustainable, and healthy world. By focusing on a six-point agenda that includes moving from health to well-being, championing digital health, sharing Ayushmaan Bharat as a public good, ensuring health is taught in schools, leveraging indigenous health knowledge, and upskilling the community-based healthcare workers, India can make a real impact on the health of people across the globe.

First published on Times of India Blogs