Friday, October 5, 2012

India and Netherlands Agree to Strengthen Bilateral Cooperation
On the invitation of Ms Edith Schippers, Minister of Health, Sports and Welfare, Government of Netherlands, Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad, the Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare visited Netherlands on 3rd and 4th October, 2012.

During his two day visit, Shri Azad attended the Ministerial Meeting on the Responsible Use of Medicines and Anti-Microbial Resistance at Amsterdam on 3rd October and held a bilateral meeting with Ms Schippers at The Hague on 4th October.

Addressing the Ministerial Conference on 3rd October, Shri Azad said responsible and rational use of medicines is an important part of the national health policy in India. He said that due to high out of pocket expenditure on health, of which a larger part is on medicines, it is vitally important that drugs are prescribed rationally. He highlighted the need to look at adherence to Standard Treatment Guidelines, curbing unethical promotion of medicines by the drug manufacturers, better regulatory control over prescriptions and dispensing of medicines and to make the consumer aware the hazards of self medication. He said several steps have been taken by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare towards universalization of health care in its endeavour to make health care services accessible, affordable and equitable, such as Free Maternal Health Services, Free Child Health Services, Free Immunization, Adolescent Health Services, Family Planning Services, NCDS and JSSK.

Shri Azad said the Government of India proposes to further expand the Initiative for Universal Health Coverage by taking up Free Supply of Essential Medicines in Public Health Facilities in the country. This step, he said, is aimed at providing affordable health care to the people by reducing out of pocket expenses on medicines. Besides, Universal Health Coverage will also promote rational use of medicines and reduce the consumption of inessential medicines.

During the discussions on the issue of anti-microbial resistance, Shri Azad pointed out that this is an area of serious concern the world over. He stated that the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has developed the National Policy for Containment of Antimicrobial Resistance to tackle the issue of antimicrobial resistance and promote rational and responsible use of antibiotics in India. He highlighted certain salient features of the the National Policy for Containment of Antimicrobial Resistance India, such as curbing antibiotic use in animals, conducting infection surveillance in hospitals, improving hospital surveillance for monitoring antibiotic resistance, promoting rational drug use through education, monitoring, and supervision, developing and implementing a standard and more restrictive antibiotic policy, educating health professionals in good prescribing practices and using prescription guidelines, promoting improvements in personal and hospital hygiene and hospital infection control programmes, establishing a multidisciplinary national body to coordinate policies on antibiotic use and monitor their impact, promoting systems of supervision, prescription audit and feedback in institutional settings to ensure rational use of antibiotics.

Following the Ministerial Meeting on 3rd October, a bilateral meeting was held between Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ms Edith Schippers on 4th October, 2012 in the Ministry of Health, Sports and \Welfare at The Hague, Netherlands. During the bilateral meeting several matters of mutual interest and benefit were discussed.

Shri Azad and Ms Schippers agreed to further strengthen bilateral cooperation through signing of a broad based MoU between the two governments in the field of health & medicine for mutual benefit as well as a sectoral MoU between the respective food regulatory authorities to formalize cooperation in the important area of food safety. 

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