South Asians, from the Asian sub-continent (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bhutan1) share the common genetic pool. Nearly 1.2 million South Asians live in Canada. They share the same common health issues and challenges, predominantly non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes and to some extent cancer and respiratory diseases. Collaboration and partnership in the health care sector between Canada and India has an enormous potential to address the health needs of Canadians and Indians.
Canada India Foundation (CIF) held a successful Canada India Healthcare Summit in New Delhi on March 30 -31, 2017. Since 2009 CIF has been a leader in organizing thematic forums highlighting opportunities for collaboration between Canada and India. The two day Summit was attended by approximately 170 participants from Canada and India including key note speakers His Excellency Nadir Patel, Higher Commissioner of Canada to India, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, Secretary, Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Govt. of India, Dr. M.B. Athreya, Founder, Athreya Management Systems, India, Dr. Srinath Reddy, President, Public Health Foundation of India, Dr. Jeremy Desai, CEO and President, Apotex Canada, and Dr. Preetha Reddy, Executive Vice-Chair, Apollo Hospitals, India.
Expert presentations and panel discussions were on distant and rural care, pharmaceuticals and South Asian health issues, digital health, wellness, aging and quality care, sustainable healthcare environment and health care research and innovation.
IC-IMPACTS director Mr. Barj Dhahan (former national chair of Canada India Foundation) moderated the panel discussion on Healthcare Research and Innovation. The session explored the importance and need for critical investments in research and innovation in order to achieve health for all. Dhahan highlighted the applied research focus of IC-IMPACTS in the area of water and health. The panelists were Dr. Ronald Heslegrave, Corporate Chief of Research, William Osler Health Centre (Ontario, Canada), Dr. Malay Sharma, Director of Gastroenterology, Jaypee Hospital (India), Dr. Sadhna Joshi, Associate Professor, Dept. of Molecular Genetics, University of Toronto and Mr. Uday Gokhale, Team Leader, New Initiatives, Eureka Forbes, India.
IC-IMPACTS research agenda and collaborative model is timely and relevant. Dr. Swaminathan, Secretary, Department of Health Research, in her keynote address outlined the five pillars of India’s health research – strengthening research capacity, implementing and translating research from laboratories to the field, developing evidence based health policy, and, building data systems, intellectual and technological knowledge depositories, and leveraging traditional knowledge systems.
She noted that both India and Canada can learn from each other and help each other in creating sustainable healthcare systems. Future partnerships can be built upon the unique strengths of each country. Canada’s expertise in health research and innovation along with its tradition of universal healthcare and India’s leadership in production of high quality and low-cost generic drugs can be the basis for developing strategic approaches for research.
1. Correction: Sikkim is a state in the Indian Union, so was removed from this list of nations.↩
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