Initiatives such as a global research and development network can help build a future where no one is left behind and access to life-saving medical countermeasures becomes a universal reality, Department of Pharmaceuticals secretary S Aparna said on Tuesday.
Delivering the closing remarks at the concluding session of the third G20 Health Working Group meeting here, Aparna appreciated all delegates for contributing their valuable insights on the establishment of a global research and development network within the global medical countermeasures platform to support pandemic preparedness and response.
"The discussions have helped to define the pathway for collaborative partnerships and provided us with a framework to envision the global research and development network," she said.
Underscoring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the healthcare systems around the world, she said the time is now to build collaboration among nations, institutions, and stakeholders through a global research and development network that fosters innovation and accelerates research.
This would be a necessary element to build the requisite agility and bench strength on a global scale to predict, prepare for and respond to future health emergencies in a robust, equitable and timely manner, she said.
Aparna laid emphasis on the power of collective action and partnerships in expediting research and development as a necessary precursor to equitable distribution, and access to life-saving medical countermeasures against epidemic and endemic diseases.
"The timely deployment of appropriate countermeasures in an emergency also relies to a large extent on those having been developed and tested by continuous interaction with a variety of stakeholders in different locations and socio-economic situations during peace time," she further said.
She noted that the deliberations during the three-day meeting have delved into the fundamental principles and components required to establish a thriving network that enhances capabilities for early stage and preparatory research, and ensures universal access to effective and affordable medical countermeasures.
"Key aspects such as leveraging the respective strengths of partners, structured knowledge sharing, prioritization, resource allocation, capacity building, and effective technology transfer have been identified as essential pillars of a well-functioning global R and D network," she said.
On the structure of such a mechanism, Aparna stated, "A network of networks which encourages regional and local cooperation as well as greater alignment of existing partnerships and principles such as those found in the World Health Organization (WHO) Blueprint for epidemics and the 100 Days Mission would be an efficient and effective path towards impact-driven collaboration."
Such a collaboration on research and development should factor in a globally accessible database covering priority pathogens, ongoing research on vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics, and development of disease agnostic technologies, she said.
It would help to address challenges such as the asymmetry of information, the lack of availability of critical materials, low attention to certain products needed by small patient populations as well as the inequitable access to potential solutions that currently obtains across geographies and communities, she added.
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