New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government has shifted its focus to Africa, and is sending critical drugs and medical devices to 13 African countries as a part of India’s humanitarian aid to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, ThePrint has learnt.
In a meeting between senior officials from the external affairs ministry and department of pharmaceuticals and Invest India held last Friday, the government decided to send some of the poorer African countries medical equipment.
An extensive list of 17 products, including essential drugs, injections and medical devices, was drawn up to send to each country. On it are 500 units of thermometers, one lakh units each of chloroquine, paracetamol and ibuprofen, and two lakh units of antibiotic azithromycin.
Further, several other antibiotics, anti-diabetic, anti-cancer, anti-asthmatic and cardiovascular drugs, injections are also being sent.
India, which has been a major exporter of medicines even before the coronavirus pandemic, is sending these drugs and medical devices on a humanitarian basis.
“Last month, we have sent crores of hydroxychloroquine and paracetamol tablets across the globe as a symbol of India’s friendship. We are known as “pharmacy to the world” and it is our duty. We will continue to send medical products across the world while keeping the domestic status under check,” said a senior government official who was part of the meeting.
A consignment of the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine is going to Mauritius, Seychelles, Madagascar, Zambia, Uganda, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali, Congo, Egypt and Comoros.
Consignments of paracetamol will be going to Zambia, Uganda, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali, Congo, Egypt, Eswatini, Chad, Republic of Congo, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe.
According to sources, some of these shipments have already been sent out.
Last month, as a part of an ‘Africa-focus working day’, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar held a series of conversations with his counterparts of some African countries, including Nigeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, Uganda and Mali.
“Useful conversations with Foreign Ministers of Burkina Faso, Comoros, Uganda and Mali. Historical solidarity on display in the midst of contemporary challenges,” the minister had tweeted after his talks.
An Africa-focus working day.
Useful conversations with Foreign Ministers of Burkina Faso, Comoros, Uganda and Mali.
Historical solidarity on display in the midst of contemporary challenges.
— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) April 25, 2020
“Good conversation with FM @GeoffreyOnyeama of #Nigeria. Discussed our #coronavirus cooperation; India is committed to provide key medicines. Thanked him for the welfare of the Indian community. Exchanged views on the Commonwealth,” tweeted Jaishankar as he assured them of India’s help.
Good conversation with FM @GeoffreyOnyeama of #Nigeria. Discussed our #coronavirus cooperation; India is committed to provide key medicines. Thanked him for the welfare of the Indian community. Exchanged views on the Commonwealth.
— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) April 24, 2020
In his conversations with the African leaders, Jaishankar had also highlighted the country’s growing cooperation with the Sahel region in one of his conversations with Mali.
India is scheduled to host the fourth edition of the India-Africa summit in September this year, a plan that was firmed up before the novel coronavirus outbreak. The last summit was held in 2015 in New Delhi that was attended by all 54 African nations.