Canada needs to stand by India facing devastating Covid crisis: Indo-Canadian health expert
A leading Indian-Canadian Epidemiology and Global Health Expert has called upon high-income countries like Canada to help India tide over crisis
In a report published by www.forbes.com, titled ‘India’s Devastating Covid-19 Crisis: How Canada Can Be A Strong Ally’, Madhukar Pai, Associate Director of the McGill International Tuberculosis Centre of the Canada Research Chair of Epidemiology & Global Health at McGill University, notes that while reporting over 350,000 Covid-19 cases daily and nearly 3000 deaths, India is facing a disaster.
“This crisis is too big for India to handle. Other countries must step in and help India, not only because it is the right thing to do, but also because uncontrolled outbreaks anywhere (e.g. in USA, UK, Brazil and India) will generate more variants & mutant strains, and such variants can be more transmissible and produce more severe disease,” he writes.
“Cases are now surging in countries close to India (e.g. Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka), and the entire South Asian region is now under grave threat. This, in turn, will bring the virus back to North America and the rest of the world,” Pai added.
He blames the developed nations of knee-jerk moves such as suspending travel from India.
“While many countries, including Canada, have suspended travel from India, some countries have gone beyond such knee-jerk moves and announced aid and relief measures to support India during this calamity,” Pai notes.
“Canada has expressed a willingness to share PPE and ventilators, but details and timelines remain unclear,” he mentions.
Speaking to several Canadians about their hopes for what they would like Canada and Canadians to do, to help India during this calamity, the Montreal based expert comes with suggestions on how Canada could help India in battling Covid-19.
“Cash to trusted civil society groups to help vulnerable communities is a critical need at this time, especially as lockdowns in various parts of India are pushing millions into extreme poverty,” he says.
Canadians with financial means could send funds to trusted local organizations to support purchasing equipment, but also to support population nutrition and other essential access points that are being impacted by the pandemic surge.
He writes, Canada can support the vaccine equity initiative by showing solidarity with the rest of the world, one respondent tells Pai. He argues that Canada can show solidarity by supporting India’s request at the World Trade Organisation to waive patents on vaccines.
McGill University expert Pai informs that Canadian medical students have launched a signature campaign in support of nearly 100 World Trade Organization Member States and millions of signatories from across the globe who have been calling for global health equity throughout this pandemic.
High-income countries such as Canada should also plan ahead for the massive rebuilding effort that will be required for low and middle-income countries to recover from this pandemic.
Quoting a professor of global health policy, he writes that the Indian health system had actually collapsed long ago for marginalized and vulnerable groups.
That expert tells Pai that this is becoming a universal reality during Covid-19 and forcing us to face some uncomfortable truths.
Our role in the Canadian global health community can be to intensively support our colleagues in responding to this crisis in whatever way we can - funding, in-kind support, tapping into our networks, and rallying our government and leaders for direct support to India, as well as a total reimagining of the global system for pandemic response.
In the "post-crisis" phase, we have to be their allies and work closely to strengthen or overhaul systems at every level, with a clear focus on equity,” an expert noted.