Message of the Permanent Representative and President of the ECOSOC Ambassador Munir Akram on First International Day of Epidemic Preparedness (27th December 2020)

The health and economic emergency triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic has put into spotlight the frailty of our health systems and our preparedness against future epidemics.

The first and immediate task is to ensure that the vaccine against the Covid virus is distributed early and equitably to everyone. Health workers and older people are the priority in all countries, rich or poor. This is a test of international solidarity. The Covax facility is still short of over $20 billion required to make the vaccine available to the poorest countries. It must be fully funded. Nor should advance purchase agreements deprive the developing countries equitable access to the vaccine.

Our performance in controlling emerging and re-emerging of epidemics depends on the quality and efficiency of our health systems. It also depends on the strength and agility of early warning systems. Therefore, today, it is of paramount importance that adequate financial resources are dedicated to upgrade existing health systems while building new ones. However, it is painfully obvious that developing countries lack essential financial resources to invest in their health systems. Their response to such outbreaks before they become pandemics would depend upon the availability of emergency concessional financing. It would also be critical to ensure that everyone everywhere rich or poor gets an equal and equitable access to the most advanced treatments including vaccines. Our response towards all epidemics especially the one that engulfs us today should be of solidarity and international cooperation.