THE COVID-19 pandemic has caused global health crisis. The virus respects no borders and nationalities. It first spread in China and travelled to most parts of world, infecting and killing millions of people in the past 16 months. Therefore, it needs regional and global cooperation to eradicate the scourge of the pandemic. There are various diplomatic efforts to muster the support of nations to this end. In the third week of April, five south Asian nations, including Nepal held digital interaction with China to boost vaccine cooperation in the region that is fighting the second wave of pandemic. The virtual meeting created several mechanisms to deal with the pandemic and achieve quick post-pandemic recovery.
There have been growing calls for medical support to Nepal that is worst-hit by the new wave of coronavirus. The country’s health care system is creaking under the strain of rising infections and fatalities. Sometime back Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, publishing an article in the prestigious British newspaper, The Guardian, called upon the neighbours and international community to extend a helping hand to Nepal. Now many nations, international organisations and Nepali diaspora are responding to the PM’s request with urgency. The issue was also discussed in the US Senate. The US has announced financial assistance for oxygen plants, cylinders and reserve tanks. China has donated over 20,000 oxygen cylinders. The European Union is also sending medical materials to Nepal. Non-Resident Nepali Association and Oman-based Nepali embassy have sent 560 cylinders of oxygen to Nepal.
The other day WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stressed providing emergency medical support to Nepal. Given the country’s alarming situation, the WHO must coordinate the donors to provide life-saving jabs to Nepal. It has become essential to mobilise foreign Nepali diplomatic missions to arrange vaccine and medical equipment to save the lives of Nepali back home. Against this backdrop, Minister for Foreign Affairs Pradeep Kumar Gyawali Saturday held a virtual discussion with the heads of 13 Nepali diplomatic missions abroad and instructed them to manage essential resources and assistance to combat the raging virus at home. Nepali diplomats have been asked to explore cooperation through bilateral and multilateral forums as well as charity organisations, private sector and Nepali diasporas.
This is right diplomatic initiative aimed at saving the lives of Nepalis. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has activated the civil protection mechanism to win support from different nations and agencies. It is true that most of the nations are reeling from the pandemic and many are not in a position to open-heartedly extend support to Nepal. Still scores of rich nations and philanthropic institutions, which have not been hit hard by the vicious virus, can provide essential medical support to Nepal. International cooperation, solidarity and unity constitute the vital components of international relations. These elements are crucial at the time of unprecedented crisis like this. For this, Nepali foreign diplomatic offices should prove their mettle and convince the foreign governments and relevant organisations to pool resources and provide vaccines to Nepal where the second wave of virus is claiming increasing number of lives daily due to lack of oxygen and ventilators.