The United States and India and share a strong collaboration in the area of public health covering a wide range of issues, including disease prevention (HIV, TB, malaria, polio), maternal and child health, environmental and occupational health, vaccine development, and emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare collaborate under the framework of several agreements and arrangements covering different areas of public health, as well as biomedical and behavioral health research.
U.S.-India Health Initiative
The Health Initiative, co-chaired by the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, is an inter-agency umbrella organizational mechanism for bilateral discussions between the United States and India on health collaboration and program implementation. It was launched in Geneva, Switzerland, during the World Health Assembly in May 2010. Under the U.S.-India Health Initiative, four working groups have been organized in the areas of Non-Communicable Diseases, Infectious Diseases, Strengthening Health Systems and Services, and Maternal and Child Health.
The Working Groups’ priority efforts include: India National Cancer Institute and other cancer collaborations, tobacco prevention and control, mental health, human resources (emphasis on nursing and allied health professionals), registries of vital records, health system financing and public-private partnerships, food and drug regulation, and international health regulations and disease detection.
Global Disease Detection- India Centre
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S. CDC) and Department of Health and Human Services and the Indian National Centre of Disease Control (NCDC) and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, signed a MOU in November 2010 to collaborate in the establishment and operation of the Global Disease Detection-India Centre. The Global Disease Detection-India Centre is now fully operational and experts have collaborated in the areas of food borne diseases, emergency operations, zoonotic diseases, public health laboratory systems, disease surveillance, epidemiology, and acute encephalitis. The India National Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) was launched in October 2012 and the first cohort of EIS officers are being trained in field epidemiology and participating in outbreak investigations. Indian scientists from NCDC and the National Institute of Virology, Pune, are being trained at the U.S. CDC facilities for identification of unknown pathogens. The U.S. CDC is also extending technical support for the operationalization of the Strategic Health Operations Centre within the NCDC for disease surveillance activities under the Integrated Disease Surveillance Project. The NCDC and Global Disease Detection- India Centre intend to organize an Epidemic Intelligence Service conference in October-November 2013.
Prevention and Control of Road Traffic Injury, Trauma System Development, and Emergency Medical Services
The U.S. CDC within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare collaborate in the areas of prevention and control of road traffic injury, trauma system development, and emergency medical services under the framework of a Joint Statement signed in June 2009. In collaboration with the U.S. CDC, World Health Organization, and Indian Council of Medical Research, the Indian Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has embarked on an effort to address the burden of injury via a national program on injury control.
India’s National Call to Action for Child Survival and Development
On June 14-15, 2012, the Governments of the United States, India, and Ethiopia, in collaboration with UNICEF, hosted the Child Survival Call to Action event in Washington, D.C. to mobilize the world to achieve the ambitious yet achievable goal of reducing all preventable child deaths by 2035. At this summit, India’s Minister of Health and Family Welfare announced India’s commitment to take a leadership role in reducing preventable child mortality. As a follow-up, India’s Call to Action for Child Survival and Development Summit was held in February 2013 and called for an accelerated response to promote child survival. USAID and UNICEF supported the process, with Indian ministries in the lead, to plan and organize this landmark summit. Summit outcomes included the launch of the Reproductive, Maternal, Neonatal, Child, and Adolescent Health (RMNCH+A) Roadmap and a national and state scorecard and dashboard to track progress.
Cooperation on Human and Avian Influenza and other Emerging Infectious Diseases
The U.S. CDC within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, cooperate on human and avian influenza and other emerging infectious diseases. We are collaborating in capacity building, including sharing of expertise in the operation of high containment laboratories and safe handling of high hazard viruses, parasites and bacteria, development of protocols and standard operating procedures, sharing expertise in the area of pathogen detection, diagnosis, epidemiology, disease surveillance, virology, and vaccinology.
Collaboration between Regulatory Authorities
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Drug Controller General of India and have been collaborating in the area of training, regulation of medical devices, clinical research, pharmacovigilance, and e-governance. A Statement of Intent between the U.S. FDA and Indian Central Drugs Standard Control Organization is under discussion to create a framework for expanding cooperation in these areas.
Collaboration between Biomedical and Behavioural Health Researchers
Over the past few decades, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Indian Council of Medical Research, and India’s Department of Biotechnology have developed a robust relationship in the biomedical and behavioral health sciences. These bilateral research collaborations are focused in several high-priority areas for both sides, including research related to HIV/AIDS, maternal and child health, infectious diseases, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, eye disease, hearing disorders, mental health, and low-cost medical technologies. The NIH currently has bilateral agreements with the Indian Council of Medical Research and the Department of Biotechnology in the areas of HIV/AIDS, vaccine research, vision, maternal and child health research, mental health, neurology and addictive disorders, diabetes research, and the development of low cost diagnostics. In addition, the NIH supports an International Center for Excellence in Research for Tuberculosis as well as two International Centers for Excellence in Malaria Research.
Collaboration in the Area of HIV/AIDS
Since 2004, the United States, through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), has supported India’s implementation of its large-scale, multi-faceted HIV/AIDS program through the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO). Working in close partnership with NACO, PEPFAR has contributed $261.6 million to India between 2004-2012 for HIV prevention, care, and treatment. The U.S. CDC, USAID, and NIH all have bilateral agreements and arrangements with Indian institutions to address HIV/AIDS. CDC’s agreement (signed May 2010) is to expand and deepen engagement with Indian institutions in laboratory systems, strategic information, and capacity development. USAID’s agreement (signed September 2010) is to collaborate on improving quality and coverage of services to key populations and vulnerable populations, enhance private sector engagement to complement the Indian government’s prevention to care continuum efforts, strengthen supply chain management systems, strengthen national capacity on behavior change communication programming, and support the global transfer of best practices. NIH’s arrangement, signed October 2011, is to advance epidemiological, prevention, and operational research on HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.