Indian Doctors Forum releases health guide on COVID-19

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By Sajeev K Peter

KUWAIT: Indian Doctors Forum, Kuwait released its annual ‘Health Guide 2021’ titled ‘COVID-19 Explained’ at an event organized by the Indian Embassy, Kuwait on Saturday. Indian Ambassador Sibi George released the health guide. The launch event was also attended by Ministry of Health Assistant Undersecretary Mohammad Al-Kashti, Kuwait Medical Association President Dr Ahmad Thuwaini Al-Eneizi; KIMS Secretary General Dr Fawaz Al-Refaee and Indian Doctors’ Forum President Dr Amir Ahmed, in addition to several senior doctors and Indian community representatives.

“It is a rich repository of invaluable information on all that we need to know about COVID-19 and all the associated nuances explained lucidly by our medical experts in plain, simple language. You would also be happy to note that the health guide is being made available free of cost,” the ambassador said while releasing the guide.

George said the embassy was very delighted to partner again with Indian Doctors Forum and be part of an initiative that will be highly useful for everyone. Congratulating the Indian Doctors Forum team, he said, “the entire editorial team who have worked hard to compile this health guide.” He said the Indian Doctors Forum team is always in the forefront of the efforts of the embassy in ensuring the welfare of the Indian community in Kuwait.

Talking about Kuwait’s invaluable support to India when the country faced a difficult situation during the second wave of the pandemic with a severe shortage of medical oxygen, the ambassador said Kuwait was one of the major suppliers of medical assistance to India. “On behalf of the India government and the 1.3 billion people of the country, I extend my sincere gratitude to the leadership, government and people of the friendly State of Kuwait for all the kind assistance.

My special thanks to all the concerned authorities who worked tirelessly, even during the holy month of Ramadan and the day of Eid Al-Fitr, to ensure continuous flow of the much-needed medical oxygen from Kuwait to India through successful air-sea bridge operations,” he said. “The Indian embassy will organize a virtual event on July 29 to express gratitude to all those who helped India overcome the second wave,” he stated.

Ambassador Sandhu visits Atlanta, his multiple engagements cover wide range of bilateral relations

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WASHINGTON: India’s Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu travelled to the city of Atlanta this past week during which he had multiple engagements with think tanks, academicians, corporate world, lawmakers and eminent members of the Indian American community to advance bilateral relationship between the two largest democracies of the world.Sandhu, in his address to the Atlanta Council on International Relations, touched upon key aspects of the India-US bilateral relations, including bipartisan support, increased trust, people as the focus, role of industry, civil society and strategic community.In his remarks, the top Indian diplomat also outlined the immediate priority areas – strategic and defense, healthcare, digital, clean energy and climate change, and education and knowledge partnership.Sandhu’s trip to Atlanta is part of his continued outreach focusing on key priorities, including healthcare, education and knowledge partnership.With Atlanta being the home of top two universities – Emory University and Georgia Tech – the Indian envoy had an interactive session with academicians and students at both the educational institutions.Emory University is the second oldest institution of higher education in Georgia. It has over 8,000 students enrolled in 150 programmes. There are about 300 Indian students and over 500 Indian-origin students who are enrolled in various programmes.Sandhu visited Woodruff Health Sciences Center . The Emory University has developed molnupiravir, a drug used to treat COVID-19 which was licensed by Merck to manufacture in India, as well as involved in clinical trials of Moderna vaccine for COVID-19 variants. During his visit, the Emory’s team briefed the ambassador about their strong partnerships with institutes in India.Emory Vaccine Center and the International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology established a Vaccine Center in New Delhi. Center for the Control of Chronic Conditions (CCCC) at Emory researches and treats chronic health issues in India. The Center is an international partnership between Emory, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine , and the Public Health Foundation of India Emory’s health department is also working on developing joint center of excellence. Under the proposed MoU, CSIR-IGIB and Emory University will enter into research collaboration that will allow them to explore areas of mutual interests, in which CSIR-IGIB will provide collaborative expertise and research skills in the field of immunology, computational and systems biology, cell and molecular biology, genetics, epidemiology, clinical sciences, molecular and precision medicine and other allied scientific areas.At the prestigious Georgia Tech, the ambassador interacted with its leadership, faculty and students and discussed strengthening partnership in STEM areas. He also visited the Kendeda Building at Georgia Tech, which is one of the 28 “living buildings” in the world and one of the world’s most ambitious and holistic green building achievement.Georgia Tech is among America’s most research-intensive universities. It has tie-ups with Indian educational institutes, including Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru. Georgia Tech’s students represent 50 states and 149 countries. Out of total 40,000+ students, Georgia Tech has over 5,000 Indian or Indian-origin students.During his trip to the city, the ambassador also met Senator Jon Ossoff, senior Congressman Sanford Bishop and Congresswomen Lucy McBath and Nikema Williams. In addition, the ambassador also interacted with a bipartisan group of legislators from Georgia Senate and House, during which healthcare as well as enhancing infrastructural, educational and trade connect between the State and India was discussed.Sandhu paid respects at the King Center for MLK and paid tribute to Gandhiji. Family members of Martin Luther King and local prominent leaders from Indian-American and African-American communities participated at the function.The Indian ambassador met prominent members of the Indian community in Atlanta belonging to diverse fields, including business, trade, research, education, IT and science. Separately he held an interaction with young professionals in the area, many of who are entrepreneurs/CEOs of firms based in the region.

No end to woes of Gulf NRIs amidst COVID-19

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By Irfan Mohammed

Jeddah: The ordeals of Gulf NRIs aftermath COVID-19 in India showing no signs of ending as one after other administrative and health procedures between India and Gulf countries come to the fore.

The acceptance of Indian vaccination certificates has become the latest hurdle that the NRI community is facing as India’s CoWIN portal is not recognized in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations.

Returning NRIs with vaccinations in India are unable to update their health status in gulf countries either digitally or physically. The presentation of a hard copy of the Indian vaccine certificate with a QR scan code goes in vain.

They are desperately seeking help in facilitating the Indian vaccine update with the host Gulf countries system.

“Indian Embassy came to know about the hurdles in updating returning NRIs’ health status in Saudi Arabia and we are addressing the issue with concerned health authorities”, Indian Ambassador Dr. Ausaf Sayeed recently told Indian community meeting in Jeddah.

The envoy emphasized that CoWIN of the Indian government is an authentic digital platform to verify the vaccination data of a person.

Attestation of Indian vaccination certificates

NRIs have been running behind travel agents for attestation of Indian vaccination certificates by the Saudi Arabian Embassy in New Delhi.

Although officially Saudi Arabia and the rest of GCC didn’t say anywhere about the requirement of attestation since it authenticated the documentation, NRIs opted for it.

In Hyderabad, several travel and recruitment agencies have been offering vaccination certificate translation and attestation.

Several NRIs are saying that they are paying between Rs. 6500 and 8000 for attestation of vaccine certificates by embassies.

Saudi Arabia and all other Gulf countries have their own Mobile Apps aimed at quelling the spread of COVID-19 besides updating the virus-relevant profile.

Tawakkalna (Saudi Arabia), Al Hosn (UAE) Tarassud (Oman) and Shlonik (Kuwait) are mandatory apps that people are required to use. Without showing health status in the app people are barred to enter public and working places.

The NRIs who were vaccinated in Gulf countries have no problem as their health status is being updated automatically.

However, those vaccinated in India and returned to the Gulf are facing an uphill task to update their immune status in those apps. It is noteworthy to mention that 122 people including Saudi health ministry employees and foreign workers were arrested in Saudi Arabia for fraudulently updating health status in Tawakkalna App.