Pune: India To Pave Way For Affordable, High-Quality Treatment, Says Soumya Swaminathan

Pune: India To Pave Way For Affordable, High-Quality Treatment, Says Soumya Swaminathan

Soumya Swaminathan also underscored the significance of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and large language models in drug discovery, emphasising the necessity of devising new regulatory pathways

Aakash SinghUpdated: Tuesday, January 30, 2024, 01:07 PM IST
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Pune: India To Pave Way For Affordable, High-Quality Treatment, Says Soumya Swaminathan |

"In developing countries, the treatment of non-communicable diseases like cancer is often prohibitively expensive, rendering it inaccessible to the common people. Therefore, there is a pressing need to address this issue, and India is poised to lead the world in developing affordable and high-quality treatment methods in the future," remarked Soumya Swaminathan, former chief scientist of the World Health Organization (WHO), during the inaugural function of a three-day conference titled 'Biology Beyond Borders,' organised by the Savitribai Phule Pune University’s (SPPU) department of biotechnology.

Swaminathan also underscored the significance of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and large language models in drug discovery, emphasising the necessity of devising new regulatory pathways. "During my tenure at the WHO, we released a document examining the ethical and regulatory frameworks surrounding AI. Recently, the WHO issued an update focussing on ethics and regulations regarding large language models for health applications, comprising about 40 recommendations," she elaborated.

Addressing the looming threat of global warming and its repercussions, including loss of biodiversity and heightened risk of future epidemics due to increased globalisation and urbanisation, Swaminathan urged proactive measures. "To mitigate these challenges, it is imperative to address the root causes, including population growth, food systems, water and air quality, and living conditions," she stressed.

Cyrus Poonawalla honoured with lifetime achievement award

Cyrus Poonawalla, the founder and chairman of the Serum Institute of India (SII), was bestowed with a lifetime achievement award during the event. The award was presented to him by Dr Suresh Gosavi, the Vice-Chancellor of Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU).

Expressing his gratitude at the event, Poonawalla highlighted the importance of direct communication with the health ministry, which played a pivotal role during the challenging times of the pandemic. This direct line of communication enabled SII to expedite the launch of the Covid-19 vaccine, streamline trials, and swiftly deliver the much-needed product that has saved millions of lives.

During the event, Adar Poonawalla, the CEO of SII, emphasised the company's commitment to innovation. He discussed the significance of leveraging technologies such as AI and quantum simulation in developing theoretical approaches to combatting new viruses and bacteria, thereby underlining SII's dedication to advancing healthcare solutions.

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