Cooperation In Medical Sector: Major Takeaway From India-Afghanistan Joint Statement

Aveek Sen, Journalist. Cover geopolitics WRT India, cyber security. Electronics Engineer, NIT Agartala. Bylines- Firstpost, ABP News, Diplomat

thermometer-833085_1920Credit: pixabay.com – Public domain
I would focus on the 5th point here and analyse in detail the medical cooperation part- “ The Prime Minister reiterated India’s abiding support for a unified, sovereign, democratic, peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan. He conveyed India’s readiness to consider further requirements of Afghanistan for capacity and capability building in spheres such as education, health, agriculture, skill development, empowerment of women, energy, infrastructure and strengthening of democratic institutions. To this end, the Prime Minister offered that, as a close neighbour and friend of Afghanistan and its people, India would allocate a sum of USD 1 billion. The Prime Minister also proposed to supply world class and easily affordable medicines from India and cooperation in solar energy through mutually agreed instruments.”

“Indian PM conveyed India’s readiness to consider further requirements of Afghanistan for capacity and capability building in spheres such as-

education

health

agriculture

skill development

empowerment of women

energy

infrastructure

strengthening of democratic institutions.

Each of these 8 sectors are connected to the self-dependence of Afghans and some of them with the economic upliftment. I’ll just focus on health in this piece. “The Prime Minister also proposed to supply world class and easily affordable medicines from India.” This clearly indicates towards generic drugs, which India is a leading exporter to Latin & South American and African countries.

Why am I focusing on health? Let me break it down for you. This may seem a minor point but this is something that will go down the line to generate immense goodwill for India, the same way as Salma Dam had.

This is typical of the Indian assistance to reconstruction of Afghanistan. While the west funded short term projects that provided ephemeral employment, India slowly finished the construction of Salma Dam. Now over 100 small scale industries would get electricity from it. Assuming just 500 employees of each, this amounts to generating employment for 50,000 people. In addition, agriculture in large parts of Afghanistan is affected positively as well. In this way, even though India invested little compared to the west, but it invested smartly to create long-term benefits for Afghanistan.

Pakistan has started harassing the Afghan refugees living east of the Durand Line, most of them living there since the late 1970s Soviet conflict. This has led to a lakhs of them moving back over the last one month alone! Pakistan tried to used refugees as a lever to harass the Afghan government.

By closing the Torkham gate & other checkpoints along the Durand Line for a period of time, Pakistan has in effect made Afghans prepare for their medical needs. They now understand that the usual trip to the hospital in Peshawarmight not be possible. In my discussions with Afghans sometime back, I was told that India could and should help Afghanistan here. I was told: India could help train Afghan doctors and medical staff at its institutions. As a short term measure, Indian doctors could also be sent and Afghan forces would take care of their security. Indian help to raise a corps of Afghan doctors and health care professionals will be remembered by Afghans in decades to come.

The joint statement can be read here- http://mea.gov.in/bilateral-documents.htm dtl/27390/IndiaAfghanistan_Joint_Statement_during_the_visit_of_President_of_Afghanistan_to_India

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