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Ensure universal, equitable, affordable access to vaccines: PM

Stressing the importance of ensuring the universal, equitable, timely and affordable access to quality vaccines, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said Covid-19 can never be controlled unless it is stopped everywhere.

“Let’s also take a renewed pledge to accomplish the 2030 Agenda for a sustainable world where our next generations stay resilient to future pandemics,” she said.

The Prime Minister said this while delivering her pre-recorded speech at the 31st Special Session of UNGA in response to Covid-19 pandemic.

For a sustainable world, she said, there is a need for urgent attention and further collaboration in some priority areas.

Firstly, Hasina said, “We need to ensure universal, equitable, timely and affordable access to quality vaccines.”

The 2030 Development agenda recognised the fundamental role of Universal Health Coverage for achieving the SDGs guided by the principle of equity.

“In the same spirit, when it comes to the access to vaccines, no one should be left behind. This will help us defeat the pandemic, save lives and accelerate our economic recovery,” she said.

Pfizer and BioNTech last week said they won permission for emergency use of their vaccine in Britain. Photo AP

Secondly, Sheikh Hasina mentioned, the world must treat the Covid-19 vaccine as a ‘global public good’. The WHO initiative of ACT and COVAX facility can play a vital role in this regard.

“Developed countries should commit to technology transfer for the local manufacturing of vaccines in developing countries using IP rights waiver under TRIPS Agreement,” she said, adding that Bangladesh has the capacity and is ready to produce vaccines if it gets the opportunity.

Thirdly, Hasina said, the challenges faced by the developing countries in the context of Covid-19, including financial assistance, should be specifically recognised.

“The UN, IFIs, civil society alongside the national governments must do their share and actively cooperate with each other to combat Covid-19,” she said.

The Prime Minister said the Covid-19 pandemic has devastated the health systems and economies across the world. Globally, over 1.4 million people have already died and many more are dying every day.

She said the pandemic has made many people poorer while many others are sliding back into poverty. “Malnutrition, discrimination and increasing inequalities are gripping the nations, and education system got disrupted.”

She said Covid-19 pandemic caused a sharp decline in trade, commerce and tourism impacting people’s livelihoods. “However, the pandemic offers us an opportunity for a united response to safeguard people’s lives and their livelihoods, and learn from the crisis to build back better.”

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina we need to ensure universal, equitable, timely and affordable access to quality vaccines

The PM went on saying: “Unfortunately, our fight against Covid-19 has not yet ended. Many countries are facing a second or third wave.”

Hasina said Bangladesh is also badly affected by the pandemic. Covid-19 has heavily impacted its economy, lives and livelihoods, migrant communities and jeopardized hard-earned development gains, she said.

“However, we intervened early and effectively, and took bold actions to protect our economy and people from the fallouts of the pandemic,” she said.

Hasina said the government has announced stimulus packages worth USD 14.14 billion, which is equivalent to 4.3 percent of country’s GDP, to minimise the impacts on business, employment and productivity.

“We’ve expanded the social safety-net coverage providing assistance to more than 25 million people since the detection of the virus in early March. Extensive measures are put in place to contain the 2nd wave of the pandemic,” she said.

Source: United News of Bangladesh