Modi proposes SAARC coronavirus funds, offers $10m

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday proposed a coronavirus emergency fund for the SAARC member countries and offered $10 million on behalf of his nation to start the fund.

“I propose we create a COVID-19 emergency fund. This could be based on voluntary contributions from all of us. India can start with an initial offer of $10 million for this fund,” he said at the unprecedented videoconferencing of the South Asian leaders united by SAARC. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, Bhutan Prime Minister Lotay Tshering, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, and Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani were the other leaders who joined the videoconference responding to the Modi’s call to chalk out a strategy to fight against the pandemic coronavirus.

Pakistan was represented by Dr Zafar Mirza, Special Assistant to Prime Minister Imran Khan on Health.
Modi said it is clear that “We have to work together”.

“We can respond best by coming together, not growing apart; collaboration not confusion, preparation not panic,” he said.
He also proposed to share the India’s disease surveillance software with SAARC countries and training on using this.

“Looking ahead, we could create a common research platform, to coordinate research on controlling epidemic diseases within our South Asian region,” he said, adding that the Indian Council of Medical research can offer help coordinating such an exercise.

On the funds proposal, Modi said the embassies of the member states can coordinate the utilisation of the fund.
The South Asia, home to world’s one-fifth population, still remained a low prevalent region of the novel coronavirus. The eight member states of SAARC so far confirmed less than 150 cases.

But the leaders that they must work together since nothing can be predicted.
“We cannot predict the situation which is why it is most valuable to share each other's perspective,” Modi insisted.

“We must all prepare together, we must all act together and we must all succeed together.”
Prime Minister Hasina also offered help for the SAARC countries with technical expertise and resources.

She stressed on continued dialogue at the officials as well as experts level and suggested that the SAARC secretariat could coordinate the regional collaboration on the coronavirus for the safety and security of the people.