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India’s Medical Diplomacy: All you need to know

India's Medical Diplomacy: Amidst COVID-19 pandemic, health service played a crucial role. India acted both as the pharmacy of the world and a global health provider. A brief analysis of India’s Medical Diplomacy is provided in the article.
May 6, 2020 16:17 IST
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India's Medical Diplomacy
India's Medical Diplomacy

India's Medical Diplomacy: According to External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava, in these challenging times, India has remained responsible in living up to international commitments which have enhanced country's reputation of being the pharmacy to the world.

AIR correspondent reports stated that India has already provided 2.8 million hydroxychloroquine tablets as grant assistance to 25 countries. On the other hand, the country has also provided about 1.9 million tablets of paracetamol as well as in another form to 31 countries. On a commercial basis, consignments of Hydroxychloroquine and Paracetamol are being sent to nearly 87 countries.

At the short notice, India has organised rescue and evacuation operations and arranged for emergency medical supplies, including personnel, to assist several developing countries.

Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) geared up to handle the complex situation soon after the COVID-19 outbreak and dealt it on an emergency basis. Foreign secretary Harsh Shringla calls it as "medical diplomacy" while acting as both the pharmacy of the world and a global health provider.

India is engaged via the world through G-20 and bilateral interaction with over 100 countries through virtual conversations to enhance the global pandemic response.

On 28 April, 2020, the video conference of BRICS Minister's of Foreign Affairs/International relations was convened by the current BRICS Chair, Russia. It was convened in the backdrop of COVID-19 crisis. The discussion was focused on the COVID-19 crisis, its impact and BRICS response. Creation of COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund by the SAARC countries. Further, India on a grant basis providing pharma assistance to support their response to the pandemic is tremendous.

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For Russian BRICS Chairship in 2020, India reaffirmed its strong support and therefore the overall theme of "BRICS Partnership for Global Stability, Shared Security and Innovative Growth”.

India's Medical Diplomacy as the Pharmacy of the World and Humanitarian Assistance

India supplied medicines to several countries across the world and enhanced production and expedites export clearances to meet the explosion demand for drugs including Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and Paracetamol. Medicines are provided on a commercial and grant basis to help the countries to fight against COVID-19 pandemic.

- Rapid response team of doctors, nurses and paramedics have been deployed to the Maldives and Kuwait at the request of their governments.

- At the time of the global pandemic, Indian Air Force (IAF) launched an 18-hour operation known as Operation Sanjeevani and airlifted 6.2 tonnes of essential medicines and hospital consumables and delivered it to the Maldives.

- Several Aid supplies, medicines have also been delivered to various countries of Africa on a grant basis.

- India supplied medicines to the countries in Latin America either as humanitarian assistance or on commercial contracts basis.

- In the video conference of the leaders of SAARC countries, various projects and initiatives have been launched on 15 March, 2020.

The establishment of a SAARC Emergency Response Fund for COVID-19, with the initial US $ 10 million contributions from India.

To assess the impact of this pandemic, India proposed follow-up discussions between medical professionals of the SAARC region, as well as trade and economic officials.

India also offered to deploy its specially-constituted Rapid Response Teams of medical and other professionals, and testing equipment, to any SAARC partner country.

Support for capacity-building was also offered including through online training modules, the establishment of a repository of best practices of dealing with COVID-19 at SAARC Disaster Management Centre, and a website with information in each of the SAARC languages.

India also offered to share its software for Integrated Health Information for Disease Surveillance.

Massive incoming and outgoing evacuation exercises have been coordinated by the Ministry of External Affairs.

No doubt the Ministry of External Affairs has played a crucial role in the Empowered Group that deals with ensuring the availability of essential medical equipment to augment national health preparedness. India's Missions are at the upfront and played a critical role in sourcing vital medical supplies and equipment from different countries. 

Therefore we can say that different elements are included in making India as medical diplomacy and have been working on an unprecedented scale.

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