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SAARC Diary: Modi Suggests Cooperative Spirit for Vaccine Deployment in South Asia

SAARC Diary: Modi Suggests Cooperative Spirit for Vaccine Deployment in South Asia


NEW DELHI, Feb 22: The prime minister Narendra Modi has advised the leaders of the neighbouring countries to maintain the co-operative and collaborative spirit for rapid deployment of vaccines to live up to the world’s expectations from the region.

Recalling the collaboration developed between various countries in unitedly facing the Corona pandemic, Modi said, “The spirit of collaboration is a valuable takeaway from this pandemic, through openness and determination, we have managed to achieve one of the lowest fatality rates in the world that deserves to be, applauded. Today, the hopes of our region and the world are focused on rapid deployment of vaccines. Here too, we must maintain the same cooperative and collaborative spirit.”

Modi was recently speaking to health leaders, experts, and officials of neighbouring countries including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Mauritius, Nepal, Pakistan, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, as well as Indian officials and experts during a virtual workshop on Covid-19 management – “Experience, Good Practices and way forward.”

The Prime Minister was lavish in his praise for the cooperation and the coordinated response within countries health systems during the pandemic and recalled the creation of COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund to meet the immediate costs of combating the pandemic and sharing of resources – medicines, PPE, and testing equipment. He also noted the sharing of experience and learning from each other’s best practices in testing, controlling infection and managing medical waste.

The Prime Minister suggested the creation of a special visa scheme for Indian doctors and nurses so that they can travel quickly within the region in the event of a health emergency, at the request of the receiving country. He also requested civil aviation ministries to coordinate for a regional Air Ambulance agreement for medical contingencies.

Beyond COVID-19, the Prime Minister sharing effective public health policies and schemes said Ayushman Bharat and Jan Arogya could be valuable case-studies for the region. “If the 21st Century is to be the Asian Century, it cannot be without greater integration between South Asian and the Indian Ocean island countries. The spirit of regional solidarity that you have shown during the pandemic has proven that such integration is possible,” he said.

The workshop decided to explore the possibility of creating a regional platform for collecting, compiling and studying data on the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines among populations to promote technology-assisted epidemiology, to prevent future pandemics.

Bhutan King’s Birthday Celebrated

NEW DELHI: A special event to commemorate the spirit of the exemplary ‘India Bhutan Friendship’ was organised at the India House Estate last week to celebrate the 41st birthday of the King of Bhutan.

The show started with the presentation of the song ‘Ye Dosti Hum Nahin Torenge’ from the Bollywood classic ‘Sholay’ by Yahoda Kharel, Rudra Kumar and Yanika Gurung, three Bhutanese students of the Nehru Wangchuck Cultural Centre to honour the friendship between India and Bhutan.

Ruchira Khamboj, Indian Ambassador in Bhutan, paid tribute to the King of Bhutan and his experience, vision and love in directing the special partnership and friendship between India and Bhutan. On behalf of herself and all those present, she expressed her warm wishes on his birthday.

She added that India Bhutan friendship has crossed 50 years in 2018, and is growing stronger through partnerships in various fields and people-to-people relations with emotional bonds.

In his address Dasho Kinga Singye, Foreign Secretary of Bhutan, who was the chief guest, referred to the multi-faceted elements of bilateral relations between the two countries and complimented the winners of the photo story competition that brought to the fore many elements of close links of friendship between the two countries over the last five decades. Dasho Kinga Singye and Khamboj awarded the prizes to the winners of an India Bhutan Friendship Photo Story competition jointly initiated by the Indian Embassy, Thimphu and Bhutan Echoes on December 16, 2020.

(Venkatesh Iyer)



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