UN Chief urges countries to step up global plan for COVID-19 vaccines
UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, on Monday urged countries to take bold decisions to end COVID-19 pandemic crisis and build a safe and healthy future for all.
In a video message to the World Health Assembly, Guterres warned against the dangers of a two-speed global response, a concern he had frequently expressed.
The Health Assembly is World Health Organisation (WHO)’s highest decision-making body and is attended by delegations from all around the world.
“Sadly, unless we act now, we face a situation in which rich countries vaccinate the majority of their people and open their economies.
“The rich countries will vaccinate majority and open their economies while the virus continues to cause deep suffering by circling and mutating in the poorest countries.
“Further spikes and surges could claim hundreds of thousands of lives, and slow the global economic recovery,” he said.
The UN chief called for coordinated action in three areas that would pave the way to recovery and a sustainable future for people and the planet, starting with solidarity to stop the virus.
“World leaders must urgently step up with a global plan for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, tests, and treatments.
“We are at war with a virus”, Guterres reiterated his appeal for G20 nations to establish a Task Force “able to deal with the pharmaceutical companies and other key stakeholders.”
According to him, the goal will be to at least double vaccine manufacturing capacity through means such as voluntary licenses and technology transfers.
In addition, the secretary-general underlined support for the recommendations made by the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness, which this month called for overhauling the current warning systems.
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He said high-level political commitment was needed to transform the existing system, and that the WHO must be at the centre of global preparedness.
In his address to the Assembly, WHO Tedros Ghebreyesus reminded Member States of the vast range of work to address the vast range of health challenges facing the world.
According to him, partnership is essential to everything we do, including in the multilateral system through the Global Action Plan for Healthy Lives and Well-Being for All.
“Today we are launching the Global Action Plan progress report, entitled “Stronger collaboration for an equitable and resilient recovery.”
“We are committed to accountability for the results we achieve, but also for how we work, which is why any report of sexual exploitation and abuse by our staff cannot be tolerated.
“We recognise that we must do much more to protect the people we serve, and to ensure that zero tolerance is not just a slogan, but a mark of who we are.’’
The 74th session WHA, which is holding virtually, will run from Monday, May 24 to Tuesday, 1 June, 2021.
The Assembly’s agenda will focus on the health-related Sustainable Development Goals.
It will also focus on WHO’s Triple Billion targets of one billion more people benefitting from universal health coverage; one billion more better protected from health emergencies, and one billion more enjoying better health and well-being.