Last week, India once again dispatched 15 tonnes of five different medicines to combat COVID-19 pandemic to South American nation Bolivia. A special plane of the national airlines — BoA (Boliviana de Aviación) came all the way from Bolivia to Mumbai and collected medicines which were later delivered in the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, in that country.
Which medicines were airlifted by the government of Bolivia?
Dobutamine Hydrochloride Injectable; Meropenem Injectable; Remdesivir Injections; Propofol Injectable; and Vancomycin Hydrochloride.
Confirming this, Juan Jose Cortez Rojas, Counsellor and Chargé d’ Affaires, the Embassy of the Plurinational State of Bolivia in New Delhi, told Financial Express Online, “The special flight from Bolivian after refueling in Madrid, Spain landed in Mumbai on Feb 16, 2021. The same flight left for Bolivia with the consignment of medicines and landed back on Feb 18, 2021.”
“The medicines that have been airlifted from India was bought in a joint effort among several Ministries in my country and under the leadership of President ‘Lucho’ Arce. The logistical support was given by the national airlines company BoA. And in India, the Embassy was in charge on getting all the permits for the plane to proceed with their operations and land in Mumbai,” the Bolivian diplomat said.
According to Juan Jose Cortez, “The said permits were given by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation. They understood the urgency of the request and quickly reacted to the formal request presented by the Bolivian diplomatic Mission New Delhi.”
Based on the permits given by New Delhi, BoA was able to get permits from other countries enroute to pass through their air space.
The Bolivian diplomat also confirmed that the medicines which were picked up from India have been delivered to the Public Health System. This, according to him was announced by the ministers in that country after receiving the consignment.
“The medicines are going to be distributed according to the needs of the population all over the country, mainly for the people who are dealing with the COVID-19 virus in ICU, and for free,” Mr Cortez added.
However, “only Remdesivir will be allocated through the private network of pharmacies in the country, at a price that will consider the real cost paid to the providers plus the transportation costs, in order to regulate the market on this product,” the diplomat said.
Remdesivir is being sold in the South American nation almost 5-10 times higher than the fair price. “Hence, with this action, the national government will balance the situation, avoiding the speculation and excesses that some merchants were practicing during this period, due the lack of the said medicine, and others.”
“As was stated by my country’s Minister of External Affairs from Bolivia during the media interaction there, this is one of the first cargos of medicines, among several others that will be obtained during the coming months, to control the pandemic and it effects among the Bolivian population,” he said.
Role of the Mission located in New Delhi
“Under the orders received from the Bolivian Ministry of External Affairs, started looking for the possibility to have formal meetings and a formal approach with pharmaceutical companies that are going to produce or are already producing COVID-19 vaccines. And to get access and official funds to export them to Bolivia in the coming months. Our requests have been already sent to the MEA and to several Indian pharma companies,” said the diplomat.