Opening Remarks by Ambassador Ajit Kumar at the Information Session for Member States on Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) at World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva

Permanent Mission of India, Geneva

Information Session for Member States on Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI)
WHO Headquarters, Geneva, November 17, 2016

Opening remarks by Ambassador/PR

Distinguished Ambassadors,
Madam ADG, Dr Marie-Paule Kieny,
Dr. John-Arne Rottingen, Interim CEO of CEPI,
Present and prospective partners of CEPI,
Ladies and gentlemen,

A very good afternoon to all of you!

It gives me great pleasure to join our co-host Norway in welcoming you all to this information session.

Earlier this year, India had the privilege of joining international efforts in putting together a new and innovative partnership for accelerating R&D on vaccines for emerging infectious diseases. This new initiative has been christened as the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation or CEPI.

The main purpose of this meeting is to introduce this new initiative to you all, and you will hear detailed presentations on CEPI during the course of this briefing from the experts themselves.

On my part, I wish to briefly share with you India's association with CEPI and in the process highlight the context in which CEPI was established, why we joined CEPI, how we perceive its role and objectives and how we see it evolving.

Dear friends,

We all acknowledge that infectious disease outbreaks recognize no borders and in an increasing interconnected and globalized world they pose a serious public health challenge to all countries. Yet, as the recent Ebola outbreak had once again demonstrated, we are woefully short of effective R&D tools to tackle such outbreaks. Ebola highlighted the urgent need to address this market failure and strengthen emergency R&D preparedness - a recommendation that has been reiterated by many expert bodies. But more importantly, the Ebola response also demonstrated that if we bring together relevant partners and coordinate their efforts we can successfully fast track the development of effective R&D countermeasures.

CEPI is motivated by this success and aims to create a comprehensive and enabling policy ecosystem to get together different stakeholders, leverage their strengths and capacities, and facilitate the development of new vaccines for priority infectious diseases with epidemic potential.

Dear friends,

India has always been supportive of global initiatives to develop new and innovative models and partnerships for addressing critical gaps in health R&D.

Vaccines are a cost effective way to prevent the spread of infectious diseases and CEPI's vision is to manage epidemic outbreaks by developing and deploying vaccines at an early stage so that they do not become major public health crises.

India is a global leader in vaccines. Our credentials as a reliable producer of quality and low-cost vaccines are well established. India has contributed significantly to global health by expanding access to affordable vaccines and hopes to continue to do so through its partnership with CEPI.

Dear friends,

We have consistently supported WHO's leading role in coordinating global R&D efforts to meet priority public health needs.

We are happy to note that CEPI's strategy is aligned with WHO's Emergency R&D Blue print. CEPI's founding principles of shared responsibility/shared benefits and equitable access are something that we have strongly stood for in WHO. Our support to CEPI is thus consistent with our leadership role in related WHO activities including the CEWG process.

We believe CEPI will complement these efforts and will work closely with WHO under its normative guidance in identifying priorities, streamlining regulatory approaches and determining deployment of new vaccines and their access to affected populations.

Dear friends,

Strengthening emergency R&D preparedness and ensuring early and rapid introduction of vaccine interventions during emergencies is a complex challenge and no single country or entity can achieve this. Cooperation and collaboration between different stakeholders including government institutions, academics, industry and civil society is crucial. It is in recognition of this collective responsibility that India was happy to participate in the discussions on CEPI and joined the initiative as one of its founding members together with Norway, the Wellcome Trust, the Gates Foundation and the World Economic Forum. It is our honor that our Secretary, Department of Biotechnology has been elected as the Chair of the interim board of CEPI.

CEPI will work with clear, inclusive and transparent governance mechanisms to achieve its objectives. As CEPI evolves, it will be our endeavor to see CEPI and partners supporting capacity building in developing countries in appropriate surveillance, clinical testing, addressing ethical issues and regulatory processes for early stage vaccine development.
We are encouraged with the support that CEPI has already attracted from different stakeholders. We sincerely hope that more partners from both developed and developing countries will join CEPI to make it a truly global and successful initiative. We also look forward to WHO coordinating activities at both global and regional level to address outbreaks with CEPI as a key partner.

I thank you.

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