Medical Diplomacy: India extends a helping hand to African nations

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Updated: May 10, 2020 9:52 AM

In April, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a telephonic conversation with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa had conveyed India’s "full support" to the African continent to deal with fighting the spread of COVID-19.

Medical Diplomacy, COVID-19 pandemic, COVID-19, Hydroxychloroquine,Paracetamol, Narendra Modi,Cyril Ramaphosa, S JaishankarAfrica is a region where medical facilities are among the least developed one and beside Corona several other diseases like cholera, TB, Malaria, Ebola are widely prevalent. (IE photo)

To help the African nations deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, India has dispatched medicines to that region. “India’s medical diplomacy in times of COVID-19 across the world has earned it goodwill of the developed and developing world,” opines an expert. According to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), more than 25 African countries are getting medicines included Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), Paracetamol and other drugs which are required on an urgent basis to fight the pandemic.

In April, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a telephonic conversation with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa had conveyed India’s “full support” to the African continent to deal with fighting the spread of COVID-19.

The South African leader is also heading the African Union – which is a continental body of 55 African nations. He has telephone calls with President of Uganda Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and Prime Minister of Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed.

Africa is a region where medical facilities are among the least developed one and beside Corona several other diseases like cholera, TB, Malaria, Ebola are widely prevalent. Subsequently External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has been interacting with his counterparts in Africa, expressing India’s commitment to its traditional solidarity with the region and providing medical supplies, telemedicine services and deployment of top medical institutions in connecting with Africa through its existing telemedicine and other networks.

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Prof Ajay Dubey, JNU and Secretary-General African Studies Association of India, says “Its medical diplomacy has additionally, enabled its reach as a soft power and as ‘Pharmacy of the World’ to developing countries especially its neighbours, Africa and countries having sizable Indian Diaspora. African countries have been special beneficiary and target of Indian medical diplomacy. India has since 2008, besides other things, capacity building and health reach out programmes to African countries. It had been one of the largest suppliers of generic drugs in East and Southern Africa, comprising 40 per cent of its total export along with petroleum products. It has an existing telemedicine and ITEC programme for training Africans in the health sector.”

“Reaching out to Africa during the global pandemic, when the world is busy focusing on its own domestic crisis, and the exemplary management of COVID-19 by PM Narendra Modi within India itself; gave India space and credibility to support its friends where it has unique and competitive advantages in the medical fields. As a response to this, PM Modi reached to African Union chairman, several heads of governments in Africa through phone, committing them and Indian Diaspora in Africa, that Indian will reach out to them in several possible ways, to deploy its medical resources in this hour of crisis” opines Prof Dubey.

“As a result of this heightened medical diplomacy, India supplied medicine, not only Hydroxychloroquine, Paracetamol but seven other medicines also, to 25 African countries are being sent. Beside this India supplied medical kits, telemedicine support by partnering top Indian Institution, AIIMS Raipur with local African institutions, to engage and train health care workers of Africa to combat this crisis. CVC has, in a way, provided an added important dimension of India Africa partnership through medical diplomacy,” he concludes.

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