SAARC COVID-19 Fund: Calibrating a Regional Response to the Pandemic

Smruti S. Pattanaik is Research Fellow at the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. Click here for detailed profile
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  • May 2020

    The convening of a video conference of the SAARC leaders by the Indian Prime Minister on March 15 to initiate a regional response to the COVID-19 pandemic came as a surprise to many countries in the region that are fighting the crisis mostly alone, scampering for testing kits, medicines and PPEs and also preparing to deal with the impeding economic crisis. For the first time, the pandemic brought together the leaders of the region to discuss how each country is handling the challenge and to devise ways to cooperate by sharing knowledge and expertise including imparting online training to the health workers in the region. Some saw this as a positive sign for revival of SAARC in future. It needs to be mentioned here that although Secretary-level meetings among member states on several agreed agendas, are being held regularly, the 19th SAARC summit meeting is yet to be held.