Sunday, 24 October, 2021

Laudable Vaccine Support

Since the resurgence of the deadly second wave of COVID-19 in Nepal, the country has been grappling with this unprecedented public health challenge. It has been quite difficult for the country with a poor healthcare system to deal with such a devastating situation. In the initial days, it was a Herculean task for the government to manage oxygen and other essential medical supplies for hospitals taking care of the COVID-19 patients. However, doctors and other health workers have been carrying out their responsibilities with much dedication and patience. Different friendly nations such as China, the United States of America (USA), the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Spain have extended their necessary support and cooperation to Nepal to help tackle this problem at a time when the country has been in dire need of live-saving medicines and other health logistics.

As vaccines have proven to be instrumental in handling the COVID-19 pandemic, Nepal has remained effortful in importing the jabs to vaccinate all the citizens as early as possible. The government is now exploring the global market to purchase vaccines. For this, it has mobilised all its diplomatic missions and other channels. Meanwhile, it is good news that China has agreed to provide one million more doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Nepal under its grant assistance. During a telephone conversation held between President Bidya Devi Bhandari and her Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Wednesday, the latter announced the assistance. Earlier, Chinese President Xi had assured that Nepal would be on a priority list of his country in vaccine support and cooperation. Some months before, the northern neighbour had made available 800,000 doses of the much-needed jab to Nepal. China has expressed her full support to Nepal in the fight against the pandemic after having understood the problems faced by this small Himalayan nation.

A few days ago, Nepal also got 3,500 oxygen cylinders and 10 ventilators from China. In addition, China pledged to provide 40 portable ventilators, 20 automated analysers, 10 DR machines, 20 portable ultrasound machines and 30 anesthesia machines to Nepal. The Chinese government also declared an additional assistance of 650 oxygen concentrators, 20,000 oxygen nasal cannulas and 20 oxygen face masks. It may be recalled here that Nepal has already received surgical face masks, thermometers, liquid oxygen, ventilators and oxygen cylinders from China's Sichuan Province and the Tibet Autonomous Region government, and the Red Cross Society.

President Bhandari thanked her Chinese counterpart Xi for the announcement of additional vaccine support to Nepal at such a critical hour. She appreciated Xi's public announcement that the anti-COVID-19 vaccines should be global public good. She also showed her gratitude to China for its continued support to Nepal in its fight against the pandemic by providing life-saving machines, medical equipment and supplies. She called for facilitation of the Chinese government for procuring vaccines from China. In the meantime, President Bhandari sent a letter to her Indian counterpart Ram Nath Kovind, calling for strengthening the bilateral cooperation to battle the contagion. She expressed her grief over the loss of lives in India owing to the second wave of the pandemic and called on Kovind to favour Nepal by providing additional doses of Covishield vaccines.