New Delhi, February 18
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday called for greater integration among South Asian and Indian Ocean island countries, saying the spirit of regional solidarity shown during the COVID-19 pandemic has proven such integration is possible.
Addressing a workshop on ‘COVID-19 Management: Experience, Good Practices and Way Forward’ with 10 neighbouring countries, including the extended neighbourhood, Modi said the spirit of collaboration is a valuable takeaway from this pandemic.
The Prime Minister said if 21st century was to be the Asian century, then it could not be without greater integration among South Asian and Indian Ocean island countries.
The spirit of regional solidarity shown during the pandemic had proven such integration was possible, he said.
Through openness and determination, Modi said, the region had managed to achieve one of the lowest fatality rates in the world.
He noted that experts had voiced concern over the pandemic’s dangers to the densely populated region but it had managed one of the lowest fatality rates in the world.
The Prime Minister lauded the region’s coordinated response, recognition of the virus’ threat and commitment to fight together. Many regions and groups followed our example, he said.
The hopes of the region and the world were focussed now on rapid deployment of vaccines, and they should maintain the same collaborative spirit, Modi said in his brief address.
Health cooperation in the region had already achieved so much, the Prime Minister said, asking if the region now could raise its ambitions further.
Modi also made certain suggestions to foster the collaborative spirit to help each other.
He asked if a special visa scheme for doctors and nurses could be created so that they could travel quickly within the region during health emergencies.
Modi also proposed that a regional platform be created for collating, compiling and studying the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines among the region’s populations.
India’s health schemes such as Ayushman Bharat, an insurance scheme for the poor, could be taken up as a case study by other countries, he said. PTI
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