PM Narendra Modi addressed a workshop on Covid-19 attended by representative of 10 neighboring countries, including Pakistan

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked the leaders of neighbouring countries to maintain a cooperative and collaborative spirit in the development of vaccines against coronavirus.

Addressing a workshop on Covid-19 management: Experience, Good Practices, and Way Forward, PM Modi suggested a special visa scheme for doctors, nurses for quick travel during health emergencies.

The workshop held today was attended by health leaders, experts and officials of 10 neighbouring countries - Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Mauritius, Nepal, Pakistan, Seychelles, Sri Lanka along with Indian officials and experts.

PM Modi said, “Can we consider creating a special visa scheme for our doctors and nurses? So that they can travel quickly within our region during health emergencies on the request of the receiving country,” PM Modi said.

He also asked whether the Civil Aviation ministries could coordinate a regional Air Ambulance agreement for medical contingencies. He suggested the creation of a regional platform for collating, compiling and studying data about the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines among our populations. Furthermore, he asked, can we similarly create a regional network for promoting technology-assisted epidemiology, for preventing future pandemics?

He 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 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 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. 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” said the Prime Minister.

Beyond COVID-19, the Prime Minister suggested sharing of successful public health policies and schemes. He suggested that 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. The spirit of regional solidarity that you have shown during the pandemic has proven that such integration is possible” concluded the Prime Minister.

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan also addressed the workshop. Speaking at the event, he said, “Our unique initiative of Vaccine Maitri which means Vaccine Friendship was launched because India’s foreign policy is governed by its age-old maxim of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’’-The World is One Family.”

“The pandemic has taught us that all such health emergencies demand a shared response because these are shared threats requiring shared responsibility to act. In fact, what is the greatest need of the hour is a greater degree of Shared idealism of nations,” he added.

Notably, vaccinating more than 94 lakhs (9.4 million) people with the COVID-19 vaccine, India has become the third topmost country globally, just after the USA and the UK.

As of February 18, till 8:00 AM, the cumulative vaccination coverage to healthcare workers (HCWs) and frontline workers (FLWs) against COVID19 in the country stands at 94,22,228.