New Delhi: At the meet on COVID-19 management led by India, Prime Minister Modi’s proposals for visa regime for doctors, air ambulance pact has got support from all the participating countries including Pakistan. Indian initiative involved 10 countries in all-Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Mauritius, Nepal, Pakistan, Seychelles, and Sri Lanka. Seven of these, barring Mauritius and Seychelles, are members of the SAARC grouping.

Indian Prime Minister had made 5 proposals in total. “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? Can our Civil Aviation ministries coordinate a regional Air Ambulance agreement for medical contingencies?” said PM Modi. 

“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? And, Beyond COVID-19, can we also share our successful public health policies and schemes?” he added. 

The proposals will be taken for a “structured discussion” for regional cooperation. The meet was a workshop on sharing best practices and took place at the level of Health Secretaries. Pakistan, which participated under SAARC umbrella, was represented by Special Assistant to Pak Prime Minister (SAPM) on health Faisal Sultan.

A source said, “All agreed that there was a need for such cooperation on a regional basis for fighting such pandemics.”

All countries, barring of course Pakistan lauded India for sending COVID-19 vaccines, whereas Pakistan did not request any India-made vaccine. This year, India gifted COVID-19 vaccines to countries in the region, which include Bangladesh with 20 Lakhs doses, Myanmar with 17 Lakhs doses, Nepal with 10 Lakhs, Bhutan with 1.5 Lakhs, the Maldives with 1 Lakh, Mauritius with 1 Lakh, Seychelles with 50000, Sri Lanka with 5 Lakhs and Afghanistan 5 Lakhs.

In March of Last year, the Indian Prime Minister called for a SAARC meeting on the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the key outcomes of the meet was the establishment of the SAARC emergency fund, with India contributing $10 million to it.

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