At a workshop on management of Covid-19, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday proposed a special visa scheme for doctors and nurses, and a regional air ambulance agreement for medical contingencies across South Asia and two East African island nations.
Modi made the suggestion at ‘COVID-19 Management: Experience, Good Practices and Way Forward’, a regional conclave hosted by India on management of coronavirus pandemic. Health leaders, experts and officials from nine countries -- Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Mauritius, Nepal, Pakistan, Seychelles, Sri Lanka and India – attended it.
“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,” the PM said.
“Can our Civil Aviation ministries coordinate a regional air ambulance agreement for medical contingencies? Can we create a regional platform for collating, compiling and studying data about the effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines among our populations? Can we similarly create a regional network for promoting technology-assisted epidemiology, for preventing future pandemics?” he said.
According to Indian Express, official sources said “all countries, including Pakistan, supported the PM’s proposals” and sought a discussion for regional cooperation to take these proposals forward.
The Prime Minister suggested that India’s Ayushman Bharat and Jan Arogya schemes may be useful case studies for other countries to benefit from. “Such collaboration can become the pathway for greater regional cooperation among us in other areas too. After all, we share so many common challenges – climate change, natural disasters, poverty, illiteracy, and social and gender imbalances. But we also share the power of centuries-old cultural and people-to-people linkages. If we focus on all that unites us, our region can overcome not only the present pandemic, but our other challenges too,” he said.
India's health secretary chaired the event and each country was invited to participate in one-plus-one format -- health secretary and head of technical team in charge of COVID-19 management.