As part of India’s Neighborhood First policy and with a view to taking a collaborative regional approach to containing the spread of Covid-19, Prime Minister of India, Shri. Narendra Moditook the initiative to hold a video conferencewith leaders of other SAARC Countries on 15 March 2020. Taking forward India’s commitment to Bangladesh, High CommissionerSmt. Riva Ganguly Das handedoverthe second tranche of emergency medical supply consisted of 1,00,000 Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) medicine tablets and 50,000 sterile surgical latex gloves to the Government of Bangladesh.
H.E. Mr. Zahid Maleque, Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Government of Bangladesh appreciated the continued support from India in terms of essential medical supplies, protective gear and capacity building. He further said, “Helping hands of our neighbour at this time of distress is most welcome”. High Commissioner reiterated India’s continued support to Government of Bangladesh in its fight against Covid-19.
This assistance covered from the SAARC Covid-19 Emergency Fund is intended to support the efforts of Government of Bangladesh in tackling the spread of Covid-19. The supplies were dispatched to Central Medical Stores Depot, Government of Bangladesh. Earlier, the medicines were transported from India with the help of Biman Bangladesh. High Commission conveys its gratitude to the airlines for its timely help.
The SAARC Covid-19 Emergency Fund was announced by Prime Minister Shri. Narendra Modi and was setup with an initial contribution of 10 Million USD from India. The first tranche of emergency medical assistance under this fund containing 30,000 surgical masks and 15,000 head-cover were handed over to H.E. Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen, Foreign Minister, Government of Bangladesh on 25 March 2020.
Taking forward India’s commitment to a collaborative approach to fight Covid-19 in the SAARC region, separate video conferences between Health experts and Trade representatives of the SAARC nations discussing specific measures, trade facilitation and exchange of best practices were held on 26 March 2020 and 08 April 2020 respectively. Healthofficials from SAARC nations are in constant touch to share best practices and to benefit from each other.
Further, e-ITEC training modules for SAARC Nations in the form of short live webinars for health care professionals on COVID-19 management strategies, capacity building, knowledge sharing on best practices and related aspects were designed by health care experts from India. The first such online course was conducted from 17-21 April 2020 by All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Raipur in which over 90 health professionals from Bangladesh participated. A second online course is being organised by Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India from 27 April - 6 May 2020 under the Government of India’s ITEC initiative.
As a friend and neighbour, India is ready to stand with Bangladesh in times of challenge. Working together, India and Bangladesh can overcome the extraordinary situation created by the spread of Covid-19.