The French Air Force delivered the equipment at Indian Air Force station Palam earlier this week. The equipment and the personnel were transported on a French Air Force Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (A330- MRTT) equipped with a ‘Morpheus’ kit, which enables the transport of critically ill patients.
Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic, recently announced the donation of medical equipment from France to India as well as provision of technical expertise. As longstanding strategic partners, France and India are working together closely on the international response to the Covid-19 pandemic as well as providing reciprocal assistance according to the needs of the two countries.
In a letter dated 24 July, President Macron, thanking Prime Minister Narendra Modi for India’s support to France earlier this year, said: “When France was going through a critical phase of this public health crisis earlier this spring, India was by our side. It played a very important role with regard to medicines. I wish to thank you once again for having authorised the export of medicines essential for the treatment of critically ill patients. This gesture reflected the exceptional nature of the partnership between our two countries. India, in turn, is going through a difficult phase of the crisis. In these painful times for your nation, I desired France to stand fully by your side. To this end, I directed that we be able to respond to the needs identified by your administration by extending aid that is exceptional in its scope and modalities. I believe that it is during tough times that historic ties are forged and strengthened between nations.”
As part of this medical assistance package (see details below), France is donating to India 50 Osiris-3 ventilators and 70 Yuwell 830 ventilators with BiPAP mode. Osiris ventilators are particularly useful for emergency transport, intra-hospital transfer and recovery; they have different ventilation modes, including non-invasive ventilation. The Yuwell 830 ventilators have bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP)—a non-invasive technique to supply oxygen to the lungs without intubation. These high-quality ventilators meet the needs of Indian hospitals.
France will also donate 50,000 high-quality serological IgG/IgM test kits and 50,000 nose and throat swabs and modes of medical transport. An expert mission on inter-hospital transfers by military means is also being dispatched. France acquired expertise in this matter during the crisis as it had to organise many transfers between hospitals. Emmanuel Lenain, Ambassador of France to India, handed over the medical equipment to R.K. Jain, Secretary General of the Indian Red Cross Society, on Wednesday at Air Force Station Palam.
An MEA source told The Daily Guardian, “France is an important strategic partner for India and in view of our very friendly relationship and close cooperation on various issues, India had provided at short notice, certain life-saving drugs to France in their time of need to help them deal with the pandemic. France has now provided medical equipment and expertise to India for our response to the Covid-19 pandemic and it is a happy coincidence that this equipment has arrived at the same time as the Rafale jets land. We are also happy to have also received a letter from the French President, H.E. Emmanuel Macron addressed to Hon’ble Prime Minister, expressing France’s solidarity with India at this difficult time. The India-France partnership will be even more crucial in the post-pandemic scenario including in the domain of humanitarian assistance.”
France had previously extended financial support of 200 million euros to India through the French Development Agency (AFD) to boost social welfare systems and protect vulnerable people in India. The credit financing agreement was signed on 22 June, with the programme designed by the World Bank already being rolled out.
French companies in India have also taken many steps to contribute to the Covid-19 crisis response. In total, French companies have contributed more than Rs 48 crore to national relief funds, including the PM CARES Fund. Companies have contributed directly or have matched their employees’ contributions. Several companies have taken initiatives to produce or to supply essential medical equipment, such as masks, sanitizers, medicines, ICU beds, ventilators. Some companies are also providing assistance to vulnerable sections of society by distributing grocery to workers and people in need in nearby communities. More than 500 French companies—ranging from MNCs to SMEs—are present in India, where they employ around 3 lakh people.