Prime Minister Narendra Modi and philanthropist Bill Gates on Thursday discussed the global response to COVID-19, and the importance of global coordination in scientific innovation and research to combat the pandemic.
During a video conference, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation co-chair Bill Gates and Prime Minister Modi agreed that given India's willingness and capacity to contribute to global efforts, it was important for New Delhi to be included in the global discussions for coordinating responses to the pandemic.
Modi also underlined the conscious approach that India has adopted in its fight against the health crisis.
"Had an extensive interaction with @BillGates. We discussed issues ranging from India's efforts to fight coronavirus, work of the @gatesfoundation in battling COVID-19, role of technology, innovation and producing a vaccine to cure the pandemic," the prime minister tweeted.
An official statement pointed out that India's approach is based on ensuring public engagement through appropriate messaging.
Modi explained how the "people-centric bottom-up approach" has helped win acceptability for physical distancing, respect for front-line workers, wearing of masks, maintaining proper hygiene, and respecting lockdown provisions.
The prime minister also highlighted how some of the previous developmental initiatives taken by the government such as expanding financial inclusion, strengthening last mile delivery of health services, popularising cleanliness and hygiene, drawing upon India's ayurvedic wisdom to enhance people's immunity, helped increase the effectiveness of India's response to the pandemic.
Modi appreciated the health related work being carried out by the Gates Foundation, not only in India but also in many other parts of the world, including for coordinating global response to COVID-19.
He sought suggestions from Gates on how India's capacities and capabilities could be better leveraged for the general benefit of the world.
Some of the ideas that the dignitaries explored in this context included drawing upon India's unique model of last-mile health service delivery in rural areas, dissemination of the effective contact-tracing mobile app developed by the government, and above all by leveraging India's massive pharmaceutical capacity to scale-up the production of vaccines and therapeutics upon their discovery.
In closing, the prime minister also suggested that the Gates Foundation could take the lead in analysing the necessary changes in lifestyles, economic organisation, social behaviour, modes of disseminating education and healthcare, that would emerge in the post-COVID world.
He said that India would be happy to contribute to such an analytical exercise, based on its own experiences.