The prime minister proposes setting up of an institution to prevent and fight against any public health threats in the region in future
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday called for a strong collaboration among the Saarc nations to devise a collective strategy and mobilizing resources in combating coronavirus.
“We need to devise a strong Saarc-wide strategy to combat this public health threat and to protect our citizens,” she said, while addressing a videoconference with her counterparts and leaders in the South Asia region to combat the Covid-19 outbreak, reports BSS.
Joining the virtual summit from her official Ganabhaban residence in Dhaka, she said: “We need to forge collaboration through our collective capacity, expertise and resources.”
“The whole world is suffering… I think for the first time it is happening,” Hasina said referring to the gravity of the crisis.
She suggested that the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) Secretariat could coordinate the regional collaboration on the coronavirus for the safety and security of the people in the region.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday had proposed the videoconference of the Saarc leaders and moderated it on Sunday afternoon.
He proposed creation of a special voluntary emergency fund to fight coronavirus, offering on behalf of his country $10 million for the fund of the eight-nation grouping of India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bhutan, the Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
Alongside Hasina, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Bhutanese Prime Minister Lotay Tshering, Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Nepalese Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, and Pakistan’s de-factor health minister Dr Zafar Mirza took part in the videoconference.
Hasina said Bangladesh was ready to share its capacity and expertise, as well as the best practices with the Saarc countries, including providing logistic support, if required.
She proposed for establishing an institution in Bangladesh to prevent and fight against any public health threats in the South Asian Region in future.
“We believe it is extremely important… and Bangladesh will be happy to host such an institution if you all kindly agree,” she said.
People come first
Prime Minister Hasina said the Saarc countries need to work together jointly in close collaboration for addressing challenges like disease control and climate change, adding: “Let’s not forget how we all are interconnected in today’s world.”
She also thanked the Indian premier for initiating the videoconference. “I look forward to being in touch with you all, Excellencies, as required and hopefully together we can ensure safety of our peoples in this pandemic situation.”
She suggested the regional dialogue to continue at technical-level involving health ministers and secretaries, and relevant health experts can also have this kind of videoconferences to discuss specific areas of cooperation.
The South-East Asia regional director of the World Health Organization (WHO) may also be invited to these videoconferences, she said.
The prime minister thanked Modi for bringing and hosting 23 of Bangladeshi students, along with Indian students during the quarantine period, from China’s Wuhan city, from where the coronavirus outbreak had started in late December last year.
She said Bangladesh has successfully check entry of the virus through strong surveillance and rigorous checks-up at all international airports, sea ports and land ports.
“As of now, we had only 3 Covid-19 imported cases. They have already recovered. There are two new imported cases from Europe. We have no local or community transmission of any COVLD-19 case,” she said.
Awareness campaign on
Sheikh Hasina told the Saarc leaders that her government has formed a national committee to provide guidance to the concerned people from all ministries at all levels.
“We’ve also undertaken massive awareness raising campaigns everywhere in Bangladesh through all available media, including social media,” she said.
She said her party, Awami League, are active in raising awareness at all levels, while local body representatives are vigilant to enforce home quarantine, if necessary.
The prime minister said the government has kept four newly-built hospitals in Dhaka dedicated to exclusively deal with Covid-19 patients.
“In addition, there is one more hospital in Rajshahi, to exclusively handle Covid-19 patients. We have also earmarked separate beds in every hospital in all districts to treat Covid-19 patients,” she added.
The premier said a few vacant buildings have also been identified where makeshift hospitals can be established in case there is any such need.
She said health workers at upazila levels have also been trained and schoolchildren are also being trained to maintain necessary personal hygiene.
She also said the government has stockpiles of testing kits, infrared thermometers, isolation gowns and masks.