Chhimi Dema 

SAARC Development Fund (SDF) has approved USD 7.7 million (M) to seven of its member countries for projects in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The projects were approved under SDF’s Social Window-health thematic area to support the countries in responding to the pandemic.

Bhutan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka received USD 1.2 million each and Afghanistan received USD 1.54 million for the projects.

The grant proposal was submitted to SDF by health ministries of the seven SAARC member countries.

SDF’s Chief Executive Officer Sunil Motiwal (PhD)  said, “The objective of this emergency Covid-19 grant assistance is to provide fund support to the Member States in their efforts against the pandemic and to protect the people of the SAARC Member States during these uncertain times.”

The seven countries proposed to use the grant to equip the health centres with enhanced Intensive Care Unit and isolation facilities and purchase personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilator machines and testing kits.

Strengthening surveillance, promoting health awareness and social mobilization especially targeted towards poor and the disadvantaged, and devising prevention and response strategies were the proposed Covid-19 projects by the health ministries.

Sunil Motiwal said that the SDF’s Covid-19 funding will provide the countries with emergency support to enhance the capacity of the frontline workers and health personnel, and help procure important medical goods and supplies.

The grant was approved in the SDF board meeting held last month.