India proposes online platform for SAARC to jointly combat coronavirus
India has proposed setting up of a common electronic platform for all SAARC nations to share expertise and best practices to jointly combat the spread of coronavirus, days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi strongly pitched for a regional approach to deal with the pandemic.
India made the proposal at a video conference of senior health officials of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) on Thursday.
The SAARC is a regional grouping comprising Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
At an India-initiated video conference of SAARC leaders on March 15, Modi suggested that health professionals of the member nations could come together to jointly fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
'India proposed a shared electronic platform for all SAARC nations to share and exchange information, knowledge, expertise and best practices for jointly combating the coronavirus epidemic,' the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.
It was informed that considerable work has already gone into the creation of the platform, which could also serve as a multipurpose vehicle to further discuss and conduct activities such as online training for emergency response personnel, the MEA said.
The Indian side proposed that till the electronic platform is fully operational, a network of experts representing the health services of all SAARC countries may set up on email/whatsapp to enable exchange of all relevant information on real time basis.
All the SAARC member nations are reeling under the coronavirus pandemic.
Globally, the pandemic has killed over 21,000 people and infected close to 5,00,000.
'The enthusiastic and constructive participation by all SAARC member states demonstrated the shared commitment to work together to defeat the challenge posed by the coronavirus epidemic in the region,' the MEA said.
The video conference, chaired by India's Director General of Health Services, deliberated on a wide range of issues relating to the pandemic.
The MEA termed the deliberations as extensive with purposeful.
The Indian side also made a comprehensive presentation on the country's response, covering the aspects of disease surveillance, contact tracing, travel restrictions and evacuation, risk assessment, clinical management of patients, treatment options and protocols and safety of healthcare providers.
All other SAARC countries also shared their own experiences of dealing with the COVID-19 challenge.
'All countries also highlighted their specific vulnerabilities, capacities, best practices, gaps in resources and logistics, private sector participation as well as levels of preparedness,' the MEA said.
It said community engagement and participation was identified as an important element in any anti-COVID-19 strategy to augment the large scale emergency measures undertaken by the governments in the SAARC region.