India and Australia are exploring cooperation possibilities in preventive healthcare, trauma care, geriatric medicine, diabetes research and mental illnesses. This found iteration in the dialogue held between Prime Minister of Australia Anthony John ‘Tony’ Abbott and me today.
The warm and friendly relations that exist between India and Australia could materialise into manifold streams of cooperation in the health sector.
I took Abbott on a tour of the Jai Prakash Narayan Apex Trauma Centre of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). Abbott took keen interest in the state-of-art trauma care facilities, the integrated call centre and the information technology-enabled medico-legal case sheet handling system.
Abbott warmly complimented me for pioneering the Pulse Polio movement which led to India becoming polio free. There is a sense of altruism and commitment in the health care systems in both our countries.
The Australian Prime Minister said that the existing Australia-India Trauma Systems Collaboration (AITSC) aims to reduce the burden of injury in both countries through development and piloting of improved systems of care.
Rich possibilities exist in sharing India’s expertise as well as gaining from the Australian experience in the training of health care workers and nurses in geriatric care and emergency medicine.
I have shared with Abbott the optimism evinced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the transformation of India’s health care system into a modern, affordable and accessible model before the developing world. Among other things, the Prime Minister has already cleared the opening of advanced secondary and tertiary health care institutions in every state of the country.
India, he pointed out, is a country where the young (aged under 35 years) dominate. The national disease burden can be substantially brought down if the right information on how to avoid contacting communicable and non-communicable diseases is passed on to the population.
India and Australia both have rich democratic traditions. I am sure that we could gain a lot of advantage from friendship with a country whose own health care system has achieved much.
Jitendra Singh, Union Minister of State for Science and Technology, Lov Verma, Union Health Secretary, and senior officials were present on the occasion.
The writer is India’s Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare.