By Anjali Bisht, Law College Dehradun.
The present government launched various propaganda since it rose to power. In order to contribute to the country’s development , ‘Make In India’ was introduced for the furtherance of this cause and this policy initiated by the Modi Government has garnered a well deserving hype all over the world. Mr Modi propagated this policy in his various visits to the foreign lands and speeches asking the investors from all over the world to invest in the various economic spheres of the country and as a result of this policy Netherlands has entered into an agreement with India. The Prime Ministers of both the countries have entered into a number of agreements and ‘the memorandum of understanding’ for development of vaccines has also made to the list.
Although the Indo – Dutch relationship dates back to the Mughal era and have been involved in bilateral trade and investment since a considerable amount of time, this deal is yet another stepping stone that will be beneficial to both the countries. The Prime Ministers of both the countries are positive that the deal will nurture the interests of both and will strengthen the uninterrupted centuries old diplomatic relations they share.
The Memorandum of Understanding on ‘vaccine production’ –
The Memorandum of understanding was signed by Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Narendra Modi on June 5 , 2015. The Bharat Immunological and Biologicals Corporation Ltd (BIBCOL), a Central PSU under the Department of Biotechnology will develop Measles – Rubella vaccine at it’s plant at Chola , Bulandshar in Uttar Pradesh with the technical support of Translational Vaccinology , a Government Institute of Netherlands. The Memorandum Of Understanding has been signed under the ‘Make In India’ initiative of the Central Government of India and the BIBCOL under the MoU has initiated it’s journey to acquire technology and production capabilities for the production of Measles – Rubella vaccine with the help of the Department of biotechnology.1
This is not the first time when both the countries have entered into a joint venture in the field of .Netherlands Vaccine Institute is the only public run organisation in the world which has the capability to produce vaccines for inactivated polio and it’s production facilities was sold to Serum Institute of India in July 2012 which is the world’s largest producer of Measles and DTP group of vaccines. It is estimated that two out of ever three children are vaccinated by a vaccine produced by Serum Institute of India.2
Why India needed such a deal ?
In November ,2014 , the World Health Organisation warned that the progress towards elimination of measles has stalled and the number of deaths from measles has increased from an estimate 122000 in 2012 to 145700 in 2013. The WHO has shown serious concern and is worried that with such statistics the targets on health issues of 2015 cannot be met. More than 60% of the estimated 21.5 million children exposed to measles due to non availability of vaccines came from 6 countries last year and India tops that list with 6.4 million children who were not vaccinated against the disease at the age of 9 months.3 With such a statistic the deal was a much awaited and appreciated step of the Indian Government which will save thousands of lives.
The deal is an attempt to strengthen the health care system of India. After the government was successful in eradicating Polio from the whole country it now aims at eradicating other curable and preventable diseases such as ‘measles and rubella’.
India spends only 4.2% of it’s national GDP for the promotion of heath care goods as compared to Netherlands 11.8% making it second to only U.S.A. which spends a total of 18% of it’s GDP on health care services. Therefore , it becomes very difficult to provide the rural areas which comprises 70% of the population access to medical facilities.
According to the India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF) , India is the third largest exporter of pharmaceutical products in terms of volume and around 80% of the market is composed of generic low cost drugs .4 Despite this the country itself is unable to provide it’s people basic medical facilities due to lacunas in the system.
The medical devices sector is the fastest growing sector in India but , due to a number of reasons it’s growth and development was stalled . But , under the ‘Make in India’ initiative the government has tried to remove all such hurdles and the Indo – Dutch Deal on Vaccine Production is one such example.
The effects of the deal –
INTRAVACC , is an institute which is a part of Netherlands’ Ministry of Health and Welfare and it is known all over the world for it’s advances in the development of vaccines and BIBCOL was established in 1989 as a public sector undertaking in order to produce and supply high quality vaccines and other bio-logicals. The aim of BIBCOL was to attain self sufficiency for the country in the field of vaccine production and supply. (research more) The deal results in the INTRAVACC extending technical support to BIBCOL for the development of vaccines.
Prime Minister Modi said that the agreement will see a transfer of technology and will help the country’s manufacturing sector and health care. He further added that the agreement stands to benefit from closer bilateral and multilateral collaborations.5
The agreement is an attempt to bridge the gap that exists between demand and supply of vaccines in India. This is a much appreciated step of the Indian Government as the country is in the dire need of strengthening its medical and health care sector as it fails to provide the population with proper facilities .
1 See – Press Information Bureau Government of India , Ministry of Science and Technology
2 See – Ministry Of Health , Welfare and Sport , July 2, 2012.
4 See – India Brand Equity Foundation Healthcare Report