PM Modi proposes COVID-19 Emergency Fund
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PM Modi proposes COVID-19 Emergency Fund

March 16, 2020

SAARC Nations respond

New Delhi: After his proposal was welcomed with open arms by India’s South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) contemporaries, Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday hosted a video-conference meet of leaders of all SAARC member nations. The Prime Minister opened the discussion by mentioning India’s efforts and action plan to limit the outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The conference witnessed participation from Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, Nepalese Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli, Bhutanese Prime Minister Lotay Tshering, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina,  Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Special Assistant to Pakistani Prime Minister on Health Zafar Mirza.

One of the key takeaways from the video-conference was Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s proposal for a COVID-19 emergency fund. He even went ahead and committed 10 million US dollars for the fund. Neighbours in South Asia can control the spread of the novel coronavirus by “coming together, not growing apart,” said Prime Minister Modi.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also assured SAARC leaders that a team of Indian medical experts will be at the disposal of member nations if and when required. Modi also mentioned that India’s neighbours can consider an Integrated Disease Surveillance Portal (IDSP) that is currently being used to detect infected patients and contact tracing.

Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih said that a coordinated approach is required to deal with COVID-19 and no country can deal with this crisis alone. “SAARC leaders should formulate a mechanism to help the economies of the region to tide over problems posed by novel coronavirus,” Sri  Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said.

The Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina proposed that health secretaries and experts from all SAARC member nations should coordinate via video-conference in order to monitor and curb the spread of COVID-19. “Our collective efforts will help us devise a sound and robust strategy for SAARC region to fight coronavirus,” Nepal PM K.P. Sharma Oli said.

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Bhutanese PM Lotay Tshering weighed in by saying that all countries in the region should be on the same page in the fight against novel coronavirus, adding that SAARC member nations must pool in their limited resources to battle this crisis. 

A special advisor to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, Dr. Zafar Mirza said that no nation can afford to be unresponsive to the situation in wake of coronavirus outbreak.

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