New Delhi: India stands on the threshold of vaccinating each and every Indian against COVID-19, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Thursday, underlining that the country is looking towards a speedy and prudent return to normalcy while undertaking strategies to balance both health and economic stability of the nation.

Addressing a workshop on ‘COVID-19 Management: Experience, Good Practices and Way Forward’, Vardhan said despite many constraints, India managed to keep its case per million figure as well as the number of deaths at the lowest level across the world.

“The strength of India was that it adopted a ‘whole of government’ and ‘whole of society’ approach. A nation of 1.35 billion people exhibited the strength and determination to diligently follow the stringent containment guidelines imposed by the government,” Vardhan said.

“Today, India stands at another threshold of vaccinating each and every Indian against this dreaded disease. We have commenced the world’s largest vaccination drive and I’m proud to say that to date, India has managed to vaccinate more than 8.8 million people,” he said.

“We are now looking towards a speedy and prudent return to normalcy, whilst undertaking strategies to balance both the health and economic stability of the country,” the minister said.

Vardhan said India as a nation is already providing thought leadership to the entire world in the sphere of public health, engaging in partnerships where joint action is needed, shaping the research agenda, and stimulating the dissemination of valuable knowledge.

“We believe in the principle that the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition,” he said.

“Our unique initiative of ‘Vaccine Maitri’, which means Vaccine Friendship, was launched because India’s foreign policy is governed by its age-old maxim of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam-The World is One Family,” Vardhan added.

Health Secretaries and Technical Heads of COVID-19 management programme of India and nine neighbouring countries — Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Mauritius, Nepal, Pakistan, Seychelles and Sri Lanka — took part in the workshop.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered the inaugural address to the participants at the workshop.

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