India has proposed to set up a common electronic platform to help member countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), to share expertise and best practices in jointly combatting the coronavirus pandemic. The decision was conveyed by the Senior health professionals representing India at the SAARC videoconference, on Thursday.
The SAARC is the regional intergovernmental organization and geopolitical union of states which comprises of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
The Ministry of External Affairs stated that the decision was taken during the virtual summit of SAARC leader on 15 March. “India proposed a shared electronic platform for all SAARC nations to share and exchange information, knowledge, expertise and best practices for jointly combating the coronavirus epidemic,” stated a statement given by the MEA on Thursday.
According to the sources, it was mentioned during the SAARC video conference that considerable work has already gone into the creation of the platform, which could serve as a multipurpose vehicle to further discuss and conduct activities such as online training for emergency response personnel, knowledge partnerships, sharing of expertise in disease surveillance, including the corresponding software, and joint research for new diagnostic and therapeutic interventions for the epidemic diseases.
Further, it was also suggested by the Indian side during the SAARC video-conference that a WhatsApp or Email group could be started to help facilitate the exchange of information on a real-time basis among the SAARC countries, until the platform became fully operational.
Subsequently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced $10 million for the SAARC COVID-19 Emergency Fund, which has so far collected $15 million after Nepal, Maldives, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka also came forward with contributions to the initiative.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of External Affairs expresses that “The enthusiastic and constructive participation by all SAARC member states demonstrated the shared commitment to work together to defeat the challenge posed by the coronavirus epidemic in the region.”
According to the World Health Organization, the Coronavirus pandemic has spread across 200 countries, infecting around 465,915 with a death toll of 21,031.