As part of its global efforts in containing the COVID-19 crisis, India has been reaching out to the Caribbean countries and other countries in Latin America. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) through its missions and posts are working round the clock to live up to its international commitments which have enhanced its reputation as being the pharmacy to the world.
In this last one week, External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar has been reaching out to his counterparts urging for a global cooperation to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and has extended a help hand.
Besides talking to Russia, USA; Estonia, Czech Republic (in Europe); Afghanistan (Asia); Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, UAE, Palestine, Lebanon (West Asia); Nigeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, Comoros, Uganda, Mali (Africa); Brazil, Panama, Peru, Paraguay, Colombia, Uruguay, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica (Latin America and Caribbean).
According to top diplomatic sources, in the LAC region, Jaishankar is scheduled to talk with his counterparts in several other countries including Bolivia, Ecuador. The embassy of Ecuador earlier this week received HCQ tablets which will soon be leaving for that country.
In one-hour-long conversation between external affairs minister S Jaishankar and his Jamaican counterpart Kamina Johnson-Smith, the two leaders discussed the COVID-19 pandemic situation in their countries and measures to cooperate for a united response to the crisis.
What has India sent to Jamaica?
India will soon be providing a number of essential and immunity boosting medicines along with medical equipment containing surgical masks, gowns, surgical gloves, thermometers, swabs, etc. The medicines and the medical equipment are expected to be delivered to Jamaica very soon. Approval has already be given for the donation of 4000 HCQ and 19,200 tablets on commercial basis to that country which is part of the CARICOM Grouping.
In 2019, in the first ever India-CARICOM summit, India had already committed US$ 1 million grant funding for community development projects in Jamaica.
In his telephone conversation, Jaishankar and his counterpart discussed enhanced economic and medical cooperation between the two countries in a post COVID world, in order to revitalize their economies and be better prepared for such scenarios in future. The external affairs minister also reiterated India’s support for the economic development of St Catherine Parish through community development projects.
Besides the medicines and medical supplies, India is also sharing its expertise in the medical domain through online webinars for medical staff of Caribbean and Latin American countries. The next such webinar is scheduled next week from May 7, 2020 and is open for healthcare workers of Jamaica.
How is the mission helping stranded Indians in Jamaica?
Indian High Commissioner M Sevala Naik is personally interacting with the Indian Nationals, especially the students who have been stuck in the country due to cancellation of all passenger flights to India due to country wide lockdown.
Besides getting the visas extended for the stranded passengers, the High Commissioner has been providing groceries, medicines and other items to the Indian community in Jamaica in need of assistance.
CARICOM Countries include: Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis .
Update on MEA efforts
According to the official spokesperson of the MEA, Anurag Srivastava, “In these challenging times when the world is fighting global pandemic of COVID-19, our teams of young diplomats are making sure that the supplies are being sent, both as humanitarian aid as well as on a commercial basis.”
“We are ensuring that the supplies to other countries of Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), and other essential medicines produced in India are going out on time,” he added.
“India has till date provided 2.8 million HCQ tablets as grant assistance to 25 countries. Also, around 1.9 million tablets paracetamol has been sent to 31 countries. And on commercial basis consignments of HCQ and of paracetamol are being sent to 87 countries,” said Srivastava.