Non-Aligned Movement, being the largest collective voice of the developing world, has raised its concerns regarding the adverse impact of the COVID-19 crisis. NAM has called on its Member States to cooperate in strengthening their health systems and to provide protection to the vulnerable population.
During the recently held 46th session of the Human Rights Council, draft Resolution L. 25 Rev. 1 entitled “Ensuring equitable, affordable, timely and universal access for all countries to vaccines in response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic”, was tabled by Ecuador and Azerbaijan on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement. Introducing the Resolution, Azerbaijan, on behalf of NAM, stated that the pandemic has exposed and aggravated vulnerabilities and inequalities in both developing and developed countries. NAM expressed its serious concern over the disparity in the distribution of vaccines against COVID-19 between developing and developed countries, which prevents the entire international community to achieve the complete elimination of the pandemic as soon as possible.
NAM noted that since the beginning of vaccination, the majority of all vaccines that have been administered to date have been concentrated in high-income countries, while low-income countries are still lagging behind in gaining access to the COVID-19 vaccines supply. NAM stated its principled position that the global vaccination campaign to deal with a global pandemic should be based on unity, solidarity, political will and multilateral cooperation, and reflect unhindered, timely access to quality, safe, efficacious, and affordable diagnostics, therapeutics, medicines and vaccines. Access to vaccines and treatments as global public goods are in the interest of all humanity.
Ecuador, one of the cosponsors of the Resolution, stated that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in the last year, we have seen the high cost in human lives, livelihoods, education and work, and the exacerbation of inequalities within countries and between countries. countries. The pandemic has disproportionately affected people living in poverty and extreme poverty, migrants and refugees, people with disabilities and the elderly. Similarly, women and girls have been particularly affected by the increase in domestic violence and the reduction of their livelihoods.
“In this context, the Human Rights Council has the duty to adopt, within the scope of its responsibilities, all measures within its power so that countries respect and promote human rights in all responses to face the pandemic. The resolution that Ecuador has presented, together with Azerbaijan on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, is inspired by this duty and reflects the need for a response as a global priority to ensure immunization for all, based on equality, solidarity, non-discrimination and care for people and groups in vulnerable situations”, the delegate of Ecuador stated during the 46th session of the Human Rights Council.
The Resolution by NAM recognises the importance of international cooperation and effective multilateralism in ensuring that all States, in particular developing States, including the least developed States, have affordable, timely, equitable and universal access to COVID-19 vaccines in order to minimize negative effects in all affected States and to avoid the resurgence of the pandemic. It further recognised that universal health coverage implies that all people have access without discrimination to nationally determined sets of needed promotive, preventive, curative, palliative and rehabilitative essential healthcare services and essential, safe, affordable, effective and quality medicines and vaccines, while ensuring that the use of these services does not expose users to financial hardship, with special emphasis on the poor, vulnerable and marginalized segments of the population.
The Resolution recognised that the COVID-19 pandemic requires a global response based on unity, solidarity and multilateral cooperation, to ensure that all States, in particular developing States, including the least developed countries, have unhindered, timely, fair and equitable access to safe diagnostics, therapeutics, medicines, vaccines and essential health technologies and their components, as well as equipment, bearing in mind that immunization against COVID-19 is a global public good for health in preventing, containing and stopping transmission, in order to bring the pandemic to an end.
The Resolution by NAM encouraged States to work in partnership with all relevant stakeholders to increase research and development funding for vaccines and medicines, leverage digital technologies and strengthen the scientific international cooperation necessary to combat COVID-19 and bolster coordination, including with the private sector, towards the further development, manufacturing and distribution of diagnostics, antiviral medicines, personal protective equipment and vaccines, while adhering to the objectives of quality, efficacy, safety, equity, accessibility and affordability. The Resolution was adopted by the Human Rights Council without a vote.
By Dr. Pawan Mathur
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