PM's proposals on medical emergencies get support of 10 nations including Pak: Sources

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New Delhi, Feb 18 (PTI) Prime Minister Narendra Modi's five specific suggestions to boost cooperation among nations in India's immediate and extended neighbourhood to deal with future medical emergencies were supported at a virtual workshop on Thursday by health experts from 10 countries, including Pakistan, authoritative sources said.

India on Thursday organised the workshop on management of COVID-19 as well as its experience and way forward for health officials and experts from all eight member nations of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and Mauritius and Seychelles.

In his address, Modi suggested that the countries should consider creating a special visa scheme for doctors and nurses so that medical personnel can travel quickly within the region during health emergencies and that the civil aviation ministries can coordinate on 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-driven epidemiology, for preventing future pandemics?' he said.

Modi further suggested sharing of successful public health policies and schemes among the countries.

The sources said all the countries, including Pakistan, supported the prime minister's five proposals.

They said the experts proposed a structured discussion for regional cooperation on the proposals to take them forward.

The sources said all the participants agreed that there was a need for cooperation on regional basis to fight pandemics.

They said all the countries except Pakistan thanked India and Prime Minister Modi for India's supplies of coronavirus vaccines and earlier assistance of various medicines, medical equipment and training of personnel.

Pakistan has not received coronavirus vaccines from India.

Last week, the Ministry of External Affairs said India provided over 229 lakh doses of coronavirus vaccines to various countries, out of which 64 lakh doses have been supplied as grant assistance and 165 lakh doses were sent on a commercial basis.

In a major announcement, India on January 19 said it will send COVID-19 vaccines under grant assistance to several countries, including Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Mauritius under grant assistance.

India is one of the world's biggest drugmakers, and an increasing number of countries have already approached it for procuring the coronavirus vaccines. PTI MPB KJ