London: The year 2020 will witness an “inflection point” in the UK-India healthcare collaboration as the COVID-19 pandemic has brought collaboration in medicine to the centrestage, outgoing Consul General of India in Birmingham Dr Aman Puri has said.
In an interview to PTI on the eve of his departure from the West Midlands region of England, Puri reflected on the recently-launched West Midlands India Partnership (WMIP) to boost India-UK investment flows and flagged the healthcare sector as a particular focus of bilateral ties amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“My sense is that 2020 will witness an inflection point in the UK-India healthcare collaboration. COVID-19 has brought healthcare centerstage, and the need for collaborations has been realised by all stakeholders more than ever before,” said Puri, who organised annual India-UK healthcare conferences during his three-year tenure, resulting in several MoUs between key stakeholders.
Puri has been the Consul General of India in Birmingham since 2017 and leaves the UK on Wednesday at the end of a three-year tenure to take charge as India’s Consul General in Dubai.
“Today, as the world is facing an unprecedented crisis due to the pandemic, the partnership between health systems assumes even greater significance. The Prime Minister of India, while announcing India’s commitment of USD 15 million to the UK-led Global Vaccine Alliance (Gavi), said the pandemic, in some ways, exposed the limitations of global cooperation and that for the first time in recent history, humankind faces a clear common enemy,” according to Puri.
“Apart from this, there have been several collaborative efforts between British and the Indian healthcare systems, both in the public and the private sectors, in the areas of clinical research, vaccine development and exchange of best practices to manage COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.
The 44-year-old diplomat, who has previously been based in Brussels during his tenure in the European Union, believes Britain’s exit from the EU and the pandemic-induced economic crisis will also throw up some opportunities within the India-UK sphere.
“As a result of the economic crisis due to the pandemic, there is going to be a spike in distressed assets in both economies. Identifying complementarities between the UK and India, catalysing mergers and acquisitions will be a significant measure required to protect jobs, improve sustainability of business and promote long-term value creation,” he said.
Reflecting upon the momentum and impetus provided by trade missions from the West Midlands region to India over the past three years, the diplomat expressed the hope that the region is firmly on India’s investment map.