G20: first health working group meeting examines shift in health-seeking behavior post-Covid



The India G20 presidency’s first Health Working Group meeting drew to a close at Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala on January 20. One of the highlights of three days meeting was Medical Value Travel and a paradigm shift in the health-seeking behavior of patients after Covid towards Holistic Health and well-being.

The event on Medical Value Travel at the first Health Working Group meeting showed how Integrated Healthcare can achieve Universal Health Coverage through Value-Based Healthcare.

“Medical Value Travel plays a crucial role in eliminating healthcare disparities across the globe and through the first Health Working Group meeting, G20 India Presidency aims to provide an impetus to create pathways to bridge this gap,” said Dr. V K Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog on the closing day of the three-day meeting of the Health Working Group of G20 India, at Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, on Friday, January 20. He added that “Medical Value Travel could be focused on maintaining, improving or restoring health through medical intervention”.

The Government of India will soon be launching the “Heal in India” initiative to leverage its healthcare services for international patients. The “Heal by India” initiative will send out healthcare workforce to other countries. Dr. Paul also emphasized the huge strength of India in the telemedicine sector which could pave the way for the “Heal from India” initiative.

“There is a great potential for utilizing traditional medical practices like Ayurveda in the Medical Value Travel sector which is witnessing a combined annual growth rate of over 23%”, said Dr. Paul. He said that Medical Value Travel could be focused on maintaining, improving, or restoring health through medical intervention instead of the common parlance of visiting another country to seek medication. “It can be achieved by providing access to quality and cost-effective medical care, transparent pricing, seamless travel to medical value travel destinations, attainment of Universal Health Coverage, and ensuring low waiting time for medical treatment”, he pointed out.

Representatives from the G20 member countries including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, the Republic of Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkiye, the United Kingdom, the US, and European Union attended the event. Special invitee countries included Bangladesh, Egypt, Mauritius, Nigeria, Singapore, Spain, the Sultanate of Oman, the Netherlands, and the United Arab Emirates participated.

Rajesh Kotecha, Secretary, Ministry of Ayush said, “We have witnessed a paradigm shift in health-seeking behavior of patients after Covid towards Holistic Health and wellbeing. A self-reliant health system is only possible when high-quality, affordable and accessible health services are being provided to all equitably. Increasing service accessibility to various health care systems leveraged with evidence, accreditations, and latest medical technologies.” He stressed that connecting the globe through medical value travel based on integrated healthcare will serve to address the disparities in existing healthcare systems.

During the three-day G20 India first Health Working Group meeting delegates discussed health priorities like Health emergencies prevention and preparedness, strengthening cooperation in the pharmaceutical sector, and digital health innovation & solutions.

The delegates also participated in a morning yoga session held on day 2 and visited the Somatheeram Ayurveda Village at Kovalam, Kerala to understand holistic healthcare service delivery system.

The Health Track of the G20 India Presidency comprised four Health Working Group (HWG) meetings and one Health Ministerial Meeting (HMM). The meetings were held in different locations across the country including Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala), Goa, Hyderabad (Telangana), and Gandhinagar (Gujarat), showcasing India’s rich and diverse cultures.

Prior to the Heath Track, the first G20 Infrastructure Working Group meeting under G20 India Presidency concluded on 17 January 2023 in Pune. The meeting was attended by 64 delegates from 18 member countries, eight guest countries, and eight international organizations. G20 IWG discussed the 2023 Infrastructure Agenda under the Indian G20 Presidency.

The two-day meeting, hosted by the Indian Presidency, discussed the flagship theme of “Financing Cities of Tomorrow- Inclusive, Resilient and Sustainable”, amongst others. The meeting included discussions on various facets of making cities economic centers of growth, financing urban infrastructure, building future-ready urban infrastructure, the role of cities in meeting sustainability targets, directing fiscal investments for unlocking private financing for energy-efficient and environmentally sustainable infrastructure and mitigating social imbalances.


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