India has extended an assistance of US$ 1 million to the Government of Antigua and Barbuda for combating COVID-19 pandemic. This assistance is aimed for improving health infrastructure and capacities in Antigua and Barbuda. The same level of assistance, i.e. US$ 1 million, has been offered to each CARICOM country. This assistance of US$ 1 million from India will be used for improving health infrastructure in Antigua and Barbuda, for procurement of life-saving medical supplies and equipment like Ventilators, etc. Under this assistance, Ventilators, Full Cover Goggles, Disposable Impervious Gowns, Face Shields, Examination gloves, Disposable Masks, etc. were facilitated and these medical supplies have arrived at St. John’s on 10th July 2020. Besides these, the Government of India has provided 10,000 Hydroxychloroquine tablets to the Government of Antigua and Barbuda as a gesture of goodwill in support of its fight against COVID-19. Today (7 Aug), the High Commissioner of India, H.E. Dr. K.J. Srinivasa symbolically handed over the medical supplies and medicine to the Hon’ble Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Mr. Gaston Browne.
The Government of Antigua and Barbuda’s proposal for assistance and collaboration named ‘Strengthening national Health capacities and reducing socio-economic and human development negative impacts of COVID19 crisis in Antigua and Barbuda’ was processed under India-UNDP Fund managed by UNOSSC and the guidelines of the Sustainable Development Goals. The implementation is by the UNDP and National Institutions of Antigua and Barbuda will be partnering in it. The modalities for implementing the project was followed as per the guidelines of the India-UNDP Fund.
India’s efforts and Prime Minister Modi’s initiative at containing the coronavirus pandemic is appreciated world over as a positive and welcome step. As part of India’s widespread efforts, Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi had interacted with various leaders across the world including those from Africa, Asia, the Americas, G20, SAARC, EU, etc. through video conferences and offered generous assistance to combat COVID19. This pandemic has strained the capacity of the world to assist others. Therefore, international cooperation is imperative. It is in this context that India has reached out to its friendly countries across the world to: Prioritize humanitarian needs; Reaffirm the imperative of collective action against a pandemic that threatens all of us; Underscore the imperative of cooperative efforts by all countries in the region, and to tackle such a complex transnational challenge.
Following Prime Minister’s discussions with various Heads of State/Government, India has since assisted over 100 countries with medical supplies and equipment to combat COVID-19. Essential medicines like Paracetamol, Hydroxychloroquine, emergency medicines, etc. to fight the pandemic are being supplied on priority basis when the world is facing acute shortage of these medicines.
As part of its commitment to train healthcare professionals and experts across the world, the Ministry of External Affairs of India has since conducted a series of e-ITEC short training live webinars for healthcare professionals on COVID19 Management Strategies and related aspects covering various aspects on COVID19 Management, including Understanding COVID, Infection Prevention Measures, Diagnosis and Clinical Management of COVID patients & contacts, Field Surveillance and Public Health Measures and other Emerging issues, “Good Governance Practices in a Pandemic” led by National Center for Good Governance (NCGG), “Managing the Human Resources Handling the COVID Pandemic” led by All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), “Infection Prevention & Control, Biometrical Waste Management in COVID Pandemic Situation”, led by All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), “Mental Healthcare during COVID19 Pandemic” led by All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), “COVID19 Pandemic – Experience and Best Practices of India” led by Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, etc. These training programs have been utilized by a large number of participants from many countries.
During his meeting with CARICOM leaders in September 2019, Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi had put forward three offers of assistance to CARICOM countries: (i) US$ 14 million Grant (US$ 1million per CARICOM member state) for quick impact community development projects in CARICOM countries; (ii) US$ 150 million Line of Credit (US$ 10 million per CARICOM member state) for CARICOM countries for solar energy and climate change related projects; and Special capacity building courses, training and deputation of experts based on the needs and requirements of the CARICOM countries.
The Government of India encourages the Government of Antigua and Barbuda to avail the assistance of Line of Credit funding to the tune of US$ 10 million for solar energy related projects, as the country needs solar energy projects in the island given its abundance in sunlight being in the tropical and the requirement of Antiguans for power, pure drinking water, etc. Similarly, the people of Antigua and Barbuda are invited to utilize more and more ITEC (Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation) training slots for the benefit of the people and to make a pool of skilled manpower resources in the country. Last year, 14 people from Antigua and Barbuda availed training in India under ITEC programme facilitated by the High Commission.
The Government of India and the High Commission of India would be happy to increase this number if there is additional requirement from the Government and people of Antigua and Barbuda. Special capacity building courses, training and deputation of experts could also be taken up based on the requirements. We also recall that after the devastating hurricane in September 2017, India had provided a direct cash assistance of US$ 100,000/-. India also provided another US$ 1 million through UNDP from India-UN Development Partnership Fund “Resilient Restoration of Pivotal Public Infrastructure for the recovery and Sustainable Development for the Island of Barbuda, Post Hurricane Irma.” The Project relates to (i) rehabilitation of the Hannah Thomas Hospital, and (ii) rehabilitation of the Barbuda Post Office.
A proposal for “Strengthening Fisheries Assessment and Management in CARICOM and CRFM Member States is also under process in the Government of India. The proposal includes deputation of Expert from India under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Programme for the project.
India’s partnership with developing countries across the world and especially in the Caribbean region continues. India’s expertise in healthcare and manufacture of pharmaceuticals will be utilized to help our partners.