India and United States Reaffirm their Commitment to Joint Health Collaboration

September 28, 2021

Collaboration to strengthen pandemic preparedness while addressing the growing burden of non-communicable diseases and health inequity will benefit both countries and the world

NEW DELHI — The fourth India-U.S. Health Dialogue (September 27-28, 2021) concluded in New Delhi today, with closing remarks by the Hon. Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW).  Referring to the finalization of an overarching Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the Field of Health and Biomedical Sciences, which will formalize the two countries’ joint commitment to strengthen and facilitate scientific, regulatory, and health cooperation, Minister Mandaviya said “The ongoing collaboration between two nations in various fields like Environmental and Occupational Health, Injury Prevention and Control, Climate Change & Human Health, Antimicrobial Resistance, HIV/AIDS, Engagement with USFDA to understand the PREDICT Model, funding clinical research fellowships for early and mid-career scientists within India and the USA will surely contribute to building a strong sustainable healthcare system with skilled healthcare professionals.”  Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), who served as the Indian Chair of Delegation, noted that “India and U.S. are also actively engaged with other lndo-Pacific countries on COVID response, vaccine development and therapeutics, sharing of best practice, supply chain management and revival of economies. With this Memorandum of Understanding in Health, strategic partnership and collaboration in health sector duly prioritizing potential areas of cooperation in health systems, health emergencies and research in both the countries will be further strengthened.”  The U.S. Chair of Delegation, Ms. Loyce Pace, Director of the Office of Global Affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), emphasized that “our robust bilateral health cooperation is poised to grow even stronger, spanning pandemic preparedness, research and innovation, health systems, health safety and security, and continuing collaboration to increase global access to medical products to tackle communicable and non-communicable disease.”

Ms. Pace was joined at the Dialogue by representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), as well as by representatives from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).  The India delegation included representatives from the MoHFW and Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST).  The Hon. Minister of State Dr. Bharati Pawar, MoHFW, Secretary Dr. Renu Swarup, Department of Biotechnology and Department of Science & Technology (DBT; DST), and Secretary Dr. Balram Bhargava, Department of Health Research (DHR), MoHFW, all gave remarks at the opening session of the Health Dialogue.

The two countries’ strong level of commitment to continuing health cooperation was evident from the breadth and depth of activities covered. The fourth Health Dialogue, in its most comprehensive iteration yet, focused on pandemic preparedness and management of COVID-19, antimicrobial resistance, food and drug regulation, communicable and non-communicable diseases, health systems, and health policy.  Participants highlighted priorities and exchanged information on research, technologies, policies, and programs.  At the conclusion of the Dialogue, the two countries announced the finalization of an MoU to strengthen cooperation in the field of Health and Biomedical sciences, an instrument that will help the two countries identify areas of mutual interest and forge new collaborations.

At the health dialogue, the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) also renewed their joint commitment to undertake collaborative research on infectious diseases of global health significance.  Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of NIAID, and Dr. Balram Bhargava, Secretary, DHR, and Director General, ICMR, co-signed a separate memorandum of understanding to continue joint support for the highly productive Indo-U.S. International Center of Excellence in Research (ICER) program – an infectious disease research partnership located at the National Institute for Research on Tuberculosis in Chennai. (Dr. Fauci signed via taped video message.)

Chargé d’Affaires Patricia Lacina remarked on the key strategic importance of the U.S.-India health relationship, stating, “The U.S.-India health partnership has benefited both our peoples for over 70 years.  Last week our leaders met in Washington to reaffirm our bilateral commitment to the health partnership, as well as our global commitments through the Quad.  We also welcome the finalization of the Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the Field of Health and Biomedical Sciences between the United States and India, which will bolster and formalize our cooperation on key areas affecting global health, including pandemic preparedness and biomedical research.”