Covid-19 Vaccines: Nepal

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:09 pm on 6th July 2021.

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Photo of Nigel Adams Nigel Adams Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) 7:09 pm, 6th July 2021

I thank the hon. Lady. She is absolutely right to speak up for the Nepalese diaspora in her constituency and elsewhere. What I can add to my response to Jim Shannon is that the United Kingdom is stepping up. We were first out of the blocks delivering equipment, for example, to India when the second wave hit in India. Of course, whatever we do will never be enough. It is a really, really challenging situation—the hon. Lady will appreciate that—but 269 ventilator machines have been donated, and thousands of pieces of personal protective equipment. We are constructing an oxygen plant in Kathmandu, with an additional plant in Pokhara; that will be completed by August. We are stepping up. We are also working with the Gurkha Welfare Trust to help those Gurkhas who have served this country so brilliantly. Through the UK-funded welfare trust, we are ensuring that lifesaving support and supplies to Gurkha veterans and communities are getting through. That includes three medical clinics and subsidised hospital treatment.

I understand that, as of last week, just 8.8% of Nepal’s population have received a first vaccine dose and 2.6% have received both doses. I understand that some will accuse us of failing Nepal in its time of need. I can tell hon. Members that nothing could be farther from the truth. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the UK Government have reprioritised over £40 million of foreign aid through the British embassy in Kathmandu to help Nepal respond to the challenges of covid-19, and at each phase of the pandemic, as it changes and as waves come along, we have tailored our support to Nepal’s needs