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Sheikh Hasina calls for amassing SAARC resources against Corona

15 March 2020, 10:18:58

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today called for a strong collaboration among SAARC nations in devising a collective strategy and mobilising resources to combat coronavirus as she joined a videoconference with her counterparts and leaders in the region.

“We need to devise a strong SAARC-wide strategy to combat this public health threat and to protect our citizens,” she said while addressing the virtual summit on combating coronavirus or COVID-19 from her official Ganabhaban residence here this afternoon.

The Bangladesh premier added: “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,” Sheikh 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 took the initiative for the summit of the SAARC leaders and moderated the conference.

He proposed creation of a special voluntary fund to fight coronavirus, offering on behalf of his country an amount of US$10 million for the fund of the eight-nation grouping of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

Alongside the Bangladesh premier, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Bhutanese Prime Minister Lotay Tshering, Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Nepalese Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli took part in the videoconference. Pakistan’s State Minister for Health Dr Zafar Mirza represented Islamabad in the summit.

Sheikh 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 threat in the South Asian region in future.

“We believe it is extremely important to establish an institution to prevent and fight against any public health threat in the South Asian region in future, and Bangladesh will be happy to host such an institution if you all kindly agree,” Sheikh Hasina said.

The premier said SAARC countries need to work together jointly in close collaboration for addressing challenges like disease control and climate change saying “Let’s not forget how we all are interconnected in today’s world”.

Sheikh Hasina thanked the Indian premier for initiating this useful videoconference, adding “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”.

The premier suggested the regional dialogue to continue at technical-level involving health ministers, health secretaries, and relevant health experts can also have this kind of videoconferences to discuss specific areas of cooperation.

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