New Delhi: Was it a surprise or something that happened on expected lines?
All countries including Pakistan supported Prime Minister Narendra Modi's five proposals on health-related issues at the global stage.
"They proposed a structured discussion for regional cooperation on these proposals to take them forward," sources said at the end of the Workshop on sharing best practices on Health, which was addressed by Prime Minister Modi.
Sources further said all participating countries (except Pakistan which has not received anti corona vaccines) thanked India and the Prime Minister for India’s supplies of vaccines and earlier of various medicines, equipment and training.
All participating countries "agreed that there was a need for such cooperation" on a regional basis for fighting such pandemics, the source said.
The Prime Minister addressed the workshop on "Covid-19 Management: Experience, Good Practices and Way Forward” with health leaders, experts and officials of ten neighbouring Countries - Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Mauritius, Nepal, Pakistan, Seychelles, Sri Lanka along with Indian officials and experts on Thursday, Feb 18.
Mr Modi lauded the way the health systems of the countries cooperated during the pandemic and for meeting the challenge in the most densely populated region with a coordinated response.
The Prime Minister recalled the creation of COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund to meet the immediate costs of fighting the pandemic and sharing of resources - medicines, PPE, and testing equipment.
He also noted the sharing of experiences and learning from each other’s best practices in testing, infection control and medical waste management.
"This spirit of collaboration is a valuable take-away from this pandemic. Through our openness and determination, we have managed to achieve one of the lowest fatality rates in the world. This deserves to be applauded," he said. The Prime Minister also said, "Today, the hopes of our region and the world are focused on rapid deployment of vaccines. In this too, we must maintain the same cooperative and collaborative spirit”.
The Prime Minister suggested creating a special visa scheme for doctors and nurses so that they can travel quickly within our region during health emergencies, at the request of the receiving country. He also asked whether Civil Aviation ministries can coordinate a regional Air Ambulance agreement for medical contingencies. Modi also suggested that "we can create a regional platform for collating, compiling and studying data about the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines".
Furthermore, he asked, can we similarly create a regional network for promoting technology-assisted epidemiology, for preventing future pandemics?
Beyond COVID-19, the Prime Minister suggested sharing successful public health policies and schemes. He suggested, from India, Ayushman Bharat and Jan Arogya schemes may be useful case-studies for the region. "If the 21st Century is to be the Asian Century, it cannot be without greater integration among the countries of South Asia and the Indian Ocean island countries".