Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare in his capacity as Chairman joined the Annual General Meeting of Indian Red Cross Society and St. John’s Ambulance through video conference, today.Thanking Hon’ble President of India and President of Indian Red Cross Society & St. John Ambulance (India) Sh. Ram Nath Kovind ji for his continued encouragement and support to IRCS, he noted, “This is for the first time that a meeting of this kind in IRCS has been organized virtually. However and as we all know, this is the ‘new normal’ of our life these days. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has made us to function this way.”Congratulating all members of IRCS as it completes its 100 years of existence saving innumerable lives and improving the quality of life of a large section of people, he brought attention of the members to the present pandemic which is in its tenth month currently. He continued, “Almost every country is trying its best to minimize this impact in its own way. In India, the central government got into action much earlier and since then has launched a slew of measures to minimize the overall impact of the pandemic.”Thanking Prime Minister Sh. Narendra Modi ji for his courageous leadership and vision to steer the country through the COVID pandemic, he reminded everyone of the brave contributions of India’s Corona Warriors. “As our Hon’ble Prime Minister has mentioned, India’s COVID-19 fight is people driven and gets great strength from our COVID warriors. I take this opportunity to salute all the Corona Warriors of the country and in particular, their mothers and family members, who always encouraged them to contribute towards the success of the fight against COVID-19. Our collective efforts have helped save many lives. We will continue the momentum and protect our citizens from the virus,” he added.
He then proceeded to explain about the potent Social Vaccine that can stop the disease and which also forms the foundation of Jan Andolan against COVID, “Maintaining a distance of 6 feet, regular washing of hands and wearing of masks/face covers, especially in public places can save lives along with livelihood, which has been the ultimate goal of Government.”Expressing satisfaction at the role IRCS has played through its blood centres and blood services, he said, “IRCS through its Blood Centres has gone out of its way to ensure that there is no shortage of blood and blood products for people in need. Innovative ways of promotion of voluntary blood donation coupled with dedicated efforts of the staff, managers & volunteers have resulted into the 24x7 operations of blood services across the country.” He thanked the members for coming up with new ventures such as the Thalassemia centre and 24X7 Control room at the NHQ blood centre and the mobile app ‘E-blood services’ developed by Red Cross that allows a person in need to reserve blood units ahead of arrival with assured availability.Noting that the Indian Red Cross and St. John Ambulance are the leading providers of community-based first aid, he also praised the organization’s response to the recent Amphan Cyclone in West Bengal and Orissa and the flooding in the states of Assam, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, “The Indian Red Cross Society has been building its disaster preparedness and response capacity by training its volunteers, building its relief stocks, and implementing awareness and mitigation activities. The Social Emergency Response Volunteer (SERV) project has been scaled up to train local volunteers in first-aid and disaster management.”The minister was apprised that relief materials are not only being stocked in the regional warehouses of National Headquarters but also in the warehouses of those states which are prone to flood and other disasters.Sh. Bhagat Singh Koshiari, Governor, Maharashtra, Sh. Bandaru Dattatreya, Governor, Himachal Pradesh, Ms. Najma Heptullah, Governor, Manipur, Smt. Baby Rani Maurya, Governor, Uttarakhand were present in the event in their capacity as President of the Red Cross of their respective states.Sh. Avinash Rai Khanna, Vice-Chairman, IRCS, Sh. R K Jain, Secretary General, IRCS & St. John Ambulance (India), Sh. Rajesh Bhushan, Union Health Secretary and other senior officials of IRCS were also present at the event.