India plans an online platform for SAARC to share and exchange information, expertise for jointly fighting COVID-19

Apart from helping the eight SAARC nations to share the best practices in the fight against the COVID19, the online platform could also serve as a multipurpose vehicle to further discuss and conduct activities such as online training for emergency response personnel, knowledge partnerships, sharing of expertise in disease surveillance, including the corresponding software, and joint research for new diagnostic and therapeutic interventions for epidemic diseases, the Ministry of External Affairs stated in a press release issued in New Delhi.

India informed the other SAARC nations about the online platform it was putting up during a videoconference of the health professionals representing all the eight-member countries of the bloc on Thursday. The video-conference was chaired by the Director General of Health Service, Dr Rajiv Garg, and his counterparts from all the seven other SAARC nations participated in it.

Dr Garg proposed a shared electronic platform for all the SAARC nations to share and exchange information, knowledge, expertise and best practices for jointly combating the COVID-19 pandemic. It was informed to the other SAARC nations that considerable work had already gone into the creation of the platform, Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, said in New Delhi on Friday.

New Delhi proposed that till such time the electronic platform would be made fully operational, a network of experts representing the government health services in all the SAARC countries might set up an email or WhatsApp group to enable the exchange of all relevant information on COVID-19 among them on a real-time basis.

India’s representatives in the video-conference made a comprehensive presentation on the response by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government in New Delhi to the pandemic, covering the aspects of disease surveillance, contact tracing, travel restrictions and evacuation, risk assessment, diagnostics, isolation and quarantine methods and facilities, clinical management of patients, treatment options and protocols and safety of healthcare providers.

The representatives of all other SAARC countries shared their own experiences of dealing with the COVID-19 challenge in their respective settings. All the countries also highlighted their specific vulnerabilities, capacities, the best practices, gaps in resources and logistics, private sector participation as well as levels of preparedness. Community engagement and participation was identified as an important element in any anti-Covid19 strategy to augment the large scale emergency measures undertaken by the governments in the SAARC region, according to the MEA.

PM Modi had mooted the proposal for a video-conference among the health professionals of all the SAARC nations when he had joined the leaders of the six of the seven other South Asian nations for a virtual summit on March 15.

Courtesy: Deccan Herald

Deccan Herald