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Opinion

Cooperate in health supplies – editorials

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The Indian government’s decision to conditionally lift its export ban on 14 pharmaceuticals, including high-demand hydroxychloroquine, is correct. You have performed an evaluation showing that there is enough for internal requirements plus a buffer. A large number of strategically important countries, from India’s southern Asian neighbors to the United States (US), had requested to take advantage of India’s large pharmaceutical base. India also saw an opportunity to show leadership to roll back current “beg your neighbor” policies that are fragmenting global medical supply chains to the detriment of all coronavirus victims. Remember, India depends as much on external medical supplies as anyone else.

Even in the fourth month of the pandemic, India is importing tons of protective equipment and test kits from around the world. Even before the unacceptable reference by the President of the United States, Donald Trump, to possible “retaliation”, India, based on an assessment of its internal needs, the need to ensure that it remains in a position to ask the United States itself critical supplies and show his status as a statesman, he had decided ahead. While the initial bans and restrictions on medical supplies and medications were an inevitable panic response, over time, it is increasingly clear that they make little sense. No government has the ability to manufacture all varieties of medical equipment and to manufacture all varieties of drugs within its borders.

Many political leaders believe that these are decisive times and this pressure is unseemly manifested. Hence Trump’s personal obsession with chloroquine and his rude language regarding India’s previous ban on medicine. India’s own behavior has not been without fault. The continuing decision to ban the export of diagnostic kits, regardless of disease, was detrimental to many developing countries and deserves to be reviewed. Hopefully, India’s decision on the pharmaceutical front indicates a formula-based policy, which will add to a global push towards greater openness and cooperation in managing the pandemic. In a viral sea, no country is an island.

Hindustan Times

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