The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the Covid-19 outbreak to be a pandemic-official recognition that the virus respects no borders and now effects masses of people in countries all over the world. As the recent take up initiative by PM Modi who reached out to SAARC member countries through video conferencing in order to combat fast spreading corona virus pandemic that has killed nearly 11000 people globally and to check out a strong strategy in order to combat corona virus outbreak. Pakistan also agreed to take participation in video conference and said combined efforts were necessary in order to minimise the threat posed by deadly corona virus (Covid-19). PM said video conference was necessary to discuss ways to keep our citizens healthy, together we can set an example to the world and contribute to the health of planet. First of all it is a very welcome move because it shows India’s leadership, shows PM Modi’s leadership and was put appropriately and correctly by PM. As the virus first broke out in china, it was thought that it is not such a big issue, then after it became an emergency and now it has become a pandemic. Although, the numbers might have come down in terms of number of new infections or in terms of those who have died as a result of it in china but across the world it is on a rampage. So, the biggest challenge so far is that we don’t have a cure for it. So, definitely world needs leadership at this movement. India is willing and has the capacity to take the leadership and take this issue forward. As the last two SAARC summits among which the SAARC summit of 2016 that was scheduled to take place in Pakistan but due to the bad environment and the conditions stated by member countries during that time. PM Modi just coming out with this has actually demonstrated by his actions that there might be problems between two member countries as with Pakistan, but when challenges come we have to rise above these problems and we have to try and work together. Talking about the south Asia, this entire south Asia is indocentric region and if we look at it, India is clearly at the centre. Culturally it shows the languages like Tamil, Bengali; it shows religious and civilisation similarities also. So, India has similarity with all hence can lead other SAARC members as well. India being vast populous, large land Mass, industrial preparedness, and grand man power, active economically and technologically all these make India a leader country. This is the time India can take humanitarian measures and go forward.
Private and public sector partnership between countries should be there and bolster the medical capacity of countries struggling to cope. There could be a funding in the form of emergency loan facility that can help augment own resources in terms of public health catastrophe.
Challenges to leadership: However, there are many challenges in front of SAARC member countries as it will challenge India and other SAARC member countries that how we deal with the uncertainty because this is era of uncertainty so, how we handle this uncertainty is kind of challenge. Second challenge that these SAARC members are going to face is the challenge and test to health system because health system as well as economy is going to be at risk when this is on the treatment and fortunately India has got extraordinary competent doctors, good epidemiologists and they can be arranged to work for this. Third most important challenge is that how the politicians earn the trust of people. This is the time all SAARC can be united up and show the world that this is one organisation which can stand up in the time of crises.
Coordination among states and rest of world
There have been the numbers of attempts in the time of crises, going back to 2016 when Global health regulatory system was setup in 2016.second joint international program on vaccination which has been monitoring all these pandemic. Although there was not the complete success as many countries have cut their budgets etc. In fact WHO was struggling with budget cuts just before this pandemic broke out. Right now there has not been done lot much at political level to workout programs. Global coordination has been very poor as most of the countries had focused on national concerns. As most of the global supply chains are largely focused around china, for base chemicals, pharmaceuticals etc. There have been very few countries producing engineering drugs and testing kits. Recently there was a demand of 2.3 million corona virus testing kits which is richly impossible for anyone to provide, that type of coordination is absolutely necessary. The issue that remains and hopefully will be addressed is an attempt to such virus.
4- Point health agenda: Indian state and other SAARC members should regularly test their preparedness to not just diagnose and treat diseases, but also to prevent them. Early detection and prevention can help a lot in minimising the severity of diseases. This is directly linked to investment in public health systems. Going back to 2015 Middle east respiratory syndrome, Thailand quickly notified the WHO of first confirmed case, acted transparently to arrest the spread. However, the virus breakout in china was something very different as the Chinese authoritarian government did not act transparently which later on gave rise to severe consequences of the virus spread. Influenza (h1N1) outbreak since 2009 in Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu has acutely understood the need for better detection, awareness of symptoms. More and more Investment in health system is the better defence of all. Each state should exposé gaps in areas adequacy/supply of diagnostic equipments, health facilities, hygiene and prevention protocols. There should be strong supply chain of products people need during emergencies. Private and public sector partnership between countries should be there and bolster the medical capacity of countries struggling to cope. There could be a funding in the form of emergency loan facility that can help augment own resources in terms of public health catastrophe.
( The author is a PG level student at AMU Aligarah. Views are his own, email@example.com )