SAARC to set up joint knowledge platform to fight Covid-19

In a follow up to the SAARC leaders’ virtual conference on Covid-19, the health experts of the eight-nation bloc in a video conference shared their experiences and proposed to set up an electronic platform to exchange information, knowledge, expertise and best practices to jointly combat the epidemic.

The Indian team, which forwarded the proposal, informed the participants that considerable work has already been done to create the platform, which could also serve as a multipurpose vehicle to further discuss and conduct anti-coronavirus activities.

The portal could be used for training of emergency response personnel, knowledge partnerships, sharing of expertise in disease surveillance, and joint research for new diagnostic and therapeutic interventions for epidemic diseases, the health ministry said in a statement.

The Indian side also proposed that till such time the electronic platform is fully operational, a network of experts, representing the health services of all SAARC countries may set up on email/WhatsApp to enable the exchange of all relevant information on a real-time basis.

The March 26 SAARC conference, which was chaired by the Directorate General of Health Services of India, discussed a wide range of issues relating to Covid-19. The Indian officials presented a comprehensive presentation on India’s response, covering the aspects of disease surveillance, contact tracing, travel restrictions and evacuation, risk assessment, diagnostics, isolation and quarantine methods and facilities, clinical management of patients, treatment options, and protocols and safety of healthcare providers.

Likewise, all other SAARC countries shared their experiences of dealing with the Covid-19 challenge in their respective settings. All countries also highlighted their specific vulnerabilities, capacities, best practices, gaps in resources and logistics, private sector participation, and levels of preparedness. Community engagement and participation were identified as an important element in any anti-Covid19 strategy to augment the large-scale emergency measures undertaken by the governments in the SAARC region, the statement further said.

At the SAARC leaders’ meet on March 15, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had suggested that health professionals of the SAARC member-states could also hold a meeting through video-link to bolster collaboration in the fight against Covid-19. The enthusiastic and constructive participation by all SAARC member-states demonstrated the shared commitment to work together to defeat the challenge posed by the epidemic in the region, the government said.

According to the latest update of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, 640 people have contracted the Covid-19 infection so far, including 17 deaths.

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