19th of August, 2020. Georgetown, Guyana, South America.
Guyana receives $US 1,000,000 from Government of India for COVID-19 Response
The Government of Indian has allocated US$ 1,000,000 from the “Quick Impact Development Project” that is being implemented jointly by the Ministry of Health, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) to support the Guyana’s response to COVID-19.
Signing the tripartite agreement on Tuesday were the Minister of Health Dr Frank Anthony; India High Commissioner, Dr K.J. Srinivasa; PAHO/WHO Country Representative Dr William Adu Krow and Resident Coordinator of the United Nations Development Programme Maikiko Tanaka.
Dr Frank Anthony thanks the Government of India for their partnership and donation to the health care system of Guyana during this global pandemic.
Statement from Dr. Leslie Ramsammy
We’d like to welcome all of you to this very small and humble event. The Government of India has been giving support to Guyana in its fight against COVID-19. The Government of India has provided a grant of 1 million US Dollars, and it is through a tripartite agreement with PAHO/WHO as a participant and with the UN. And so both the UN and PAHO/WHO are coordinating and facilitating the utilization of these very important resources. So today we are signing that agreement and the minister and our representatives will tell us more about this.
Statement from Dr. William Adu Krow
I am happy to be part of this. Just a little bit in terms of the genesis. I had a call from the Resident Coordinator saying that there is this India Fund and that goes as like UN to UN South-South Cooperation Fund. And that if we submit a concept note… We did submit submit a concept note in collaboration and reviewed by the Director of Budgets and the Head Office. We had to then send it to New York. And after a series of (alterations) yes, we got it approved. So I must thank the Government of India for the donation. I think it has gone a long way. Even though there has been back and forth. Even when we didn’t have the money, we had to put in the procurement so that it is not deemed late. So the procurement was started. The moment we got the money, we funded the procurement. So, the way the system works is, you can start the procurement, but they will not ship the items to you until you fund it. The moment we got the funding, we actually funded it and the items are on the way. Some of them have already arrived in Panama and are soon going to be here. So I’d like to thank the government of India for that donation, and also thank the Resident Coordinator. At one meeting some of my colleagues were saying, “since when did the UNDP not get involved in this? This is UNDP Funds!”
I said, “Excuse me!” But anyway, I’m glad that I’m able to play a part. And I’m also happy that the Ministry of Health is desirous of putting it to good use so that in terms of the reporting, we can always see the report that the money has been used and used well.
I was fascinated when the Secretariat for the India Fund in New York, kept on writing, “PAHO has to be the one teaching the country how to use the equipment.” And for a long time we couldn’t come up with an agreement. But finally we have everything done and we are glad that we are able to play a role. We’re also happy to have the honorable minister who is desirous to having an end to this pandemic that we have in this country. I’m sure that this partnership is going to work well…a partnership between the government of India and the Ministry. We should come back at the end of the whole program and say, “this is the money that was given, and this the impact of it.” Not only the output but the impact of it. And that’s what we look forward to. Thanks so much, Mr. Chair, for giving me the opportunity.
Statement from Maikiko Tanaka
I just like to thank again, on behalf of the UN Office for South-South Cooperation. This is the UN Secretariat in New York. Thank you so much for your confidence and trust in working together with the UN system here at PAHO/WHO in particular to help Guyana in this terrible pandemic. I would just like to add that it’s a concrete fruition of a lot of work that went in. And certainly, Dr. Adu Krow, our PAHO/WHO Rep who is retiring very soon, I think the amount of work that he put into this COVID-19 effort here in Guyana is really commendable. I’m really happy that this is one of the fruits that came out of it. On behalf of the UN System here, I really look forward to supporting your effort in this very difficult phase. I’m very happy that this has borne fruit.
Statement from Dr. K.J. Srinivasa
India and Guyana have always been partners and partners for progress, partners for development. And for us, working with Guyana was something which came naturally. And as part of Prime Minister’s Modi’s effort of coordinating a worldwide response against this COVID-19 pandemic, India has been helping many countries across the world. About 100 countries so far have received Indian aid in the form of medical equipment, in the form of PPEs, in the form of medicines, in the form of monetary aid. And we have been able to supply medicines like hydroxychloroquine, paracetemol, other emergency room medicines, ventilators…across the world. And when the issue came to the Caribbean Region, in the month of September last, Prime Minister Modi had a talk, a summit with the CARICOM leaders in which he had pledged 1 million dollars each for Quick Impact Community Development Projects in their area for each of the countries in the CARICOM Union.
This time, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it was decided that we will divert this Quick Impact Community Development Project Funds of 1 million dollars each to each of these countries wherein they can make use of it through their health care systems and to support and to upgrade their fight against COVID-19. So as part of this effort, we coordinated with our permanent mission to the United Nations in New York and we requested them that this project be funded with utmost urgency because this will help Guyana to improve its ability to fight against the pandemic. And as is usual for such projects, we work very closely with the UN system. We have something called the Indian/UNDP fund wherein the funds are transferred and we work with the UN Office for South-South Cooperation and the UN Secretariat. And here PAHO/WHO was chosen as one of the partners and, of course, UN is always there.
They were tasked with the responsibility to prepare a draft plan of procurement of the stuff that is required for Guyana. And they submitted the plan. And as Dr. Adu Krow was mentioning, there were some alterations, but this is quite normal because we need to be sure about what exactly the government of Guyana wants for its people, and also what the specialized agencies PAHO/WHO recommend. So we have sent the funds and, as Mr. Adu Kro was mentioning, the procurement is already done. We have some stuff arriving soon, and we hope that most of the equipment…we have PPEs, we have personal protection equipment here. We have 29 ventilators which is going to play a very important role because this will supplement and add tremendously, I think over 500% more than the ventilators than are presently working in Guyana.
So we believe that it is a small contribution to the fight against COVID-19 to our dear friend Guyana. I want to reassure all the Guyanese here that India always stands with them. We believe that we have a long partnership, a long friendship to maintain and our historical, cultural roots at the same time. We believe we have to work together to fight this COVID-19 pandemic.
And in the Caribbean Region especially, India has been extending this assistance across the Region. Just 2 weeks before, I handed over a similar aid of 1 million dollars to Barbuda. It was a similar amount, similar specifications. We are working currently on a similar aid to St. Kitts and Nevis. And I also handed over emergency medicines worth over one hundred thousand US dollars to the Health Ministry of St. Kitts and Nevis last week.
So, we are working very hard to ensure that the countries in the Region get aid. And we will be there to make use of India’s higher capabilities in the Health Care and Pharma sector in the future so we can deal with any such health emergencies. I thank the Ministry of Health of Guyana, the Government of Guyana and UN and PAHO/WHO for having been partners of this. We believe that we can work together, save lives, and make people stay safe.
Statement from Dr. Frank Anthony
I think you have heard quite a lot. We can’t thank India enough for this genuine gesture of friendship and for helping us in a time of need. As you know, PPE is one of the things we really need to protect our front line workers. And without it, a lot of people are going to get sick. And so, your gesture has been, you know, a good one. But more than good because the ventilators that you mentioned…there are 29 ventilators that are coming. And those ventilators are going to save lives, because we know that the most critical patients are the ones who would need that type of support. So, we are extremely thankful to you, High Commissioner, for all your efforts. And we want you to extend our thanks to the Government of India not only for their support to Guyana, but to the rest of the Region. As you mentioned, we’ve had long and traditional ties and our roots go back very deep. And it’s good that we can have this gesture from you. We also, while we talk about our response to COVID, we know that there will be many other ways of how we are going to collaborate. We have just used the occasion to have a preliminary discussion on many other projects that we will collaborate on between the government of India and the government of Guyana, especially in the areas of Health.
But perhaps today is not the occasion for those and we’ll probably talk about them on another occasion. So, High Commissioner, I want to express our gratitude. And one million US dollars will go a long way to help us with this response. Dr. Adu Krow has been so proactive with us. You couldn’t have chosen a better partner to help you to procure these things for Guyana. Since I came to this office, as soon as I call him, he’s extremely responsive, and we’ve gotten quite a lot of things done in a very short time. I expect that all the things that had been procured…that we will get them very quickly. Of course the UN has played a very important role. In fact both PAHO and UN are on our policy body that deals with the response to COVID. So, in a lot of ways, the international collaboration and reaching out, and mobilizing and helping us to do that aspect of the response, because for you to respond appropriately nationally, you need to be able to mobilize globally.
And so they have been helping us in a tremendous way to do that. Not just the resources, but also, best practices and what we can do and how we can do it…leveraging technical expertise to help us to strengthen this fight. So High Commissioner, I think when you look here, it shows the type of partnership that we have, the multilateral agency, bilateral, the national effort. It’s a reflection of the type of collaboration that we need as we respond to COVID, because no single actor would be able to defeat this virus. We all have to collaborate, and I think that through collaboration, we’ll be able to have a stronger response. So once again, High Commissioner, I thank you very much.