Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen has called for a time bound action plan, supported by financing and capacity building, to address the unwarranted vaccine gap suffered by many low and middle-income countries.
He made the suggestion in presenting a five-point recommendation at the virtual Ministerial Meeting on Covid-19, convened by United States Secretary of State Antony J Blinken on 10 November, 2021.
He also recommended the World Health Organisation (WHO) convene a high level panel featuring select global leaders to devise a blueprint for preventing and managing future pandemics, ideally with gender and geographic balance, said a press release from the Embassy of Bangladesh in Paris, France.
AK Abdul Momen also urged the US and the WHO to take the lead in convening an Expert Working Group on the question of strengthening national level disease control agencies.
He also recommended supporting vaccine manufacturing capabilities in certain countries like Bangladesh in the Global South, in a meaningful manner, through appropriate interventions concerning intellectual property rights and technology transfer.
The foreign minister also called for factoring in the relationship between pandemic outbreaks, climate change, and biodiversity loss, in global collective efforts to build back better, greener, and stronger, from the pandemic.
In his statement during the meeting, Foreign Minister Momen highlighted the fact that Bangladesh has managed to keep the fatality rate lower than the global average.
He also said that at present the infection rate in Bangladesh remains under 1%.
Contrary to some dire projections, Bangladesh managed to keep infection and death rates absolutely minimal in the congested Rohingya camps of Cox's Bazar, he added.
Foreign Minister Momen reiterated Bangladesh's demand that Covid-19 vaccines should be declared as "global public goods" to make them affordable for all countries.
He also said pharmaceutical companies, including those in Bangladesh, should be encouraged and assisted to produce Covid-19 vaccines, and said Bangladesh stands ready to contribute to global vaccine production for sharing with others.
Noting that Bangladesh has so far administered 78 million vaccine doses, with 46 million single doses and 32 million double doses, Foreign Minister Momen said the target is to vaccinate 80% of our target population group by March 2022, and for that, a continued supply of vaccines is required.
The Bangladesh foreign minister underscored the fact that no country would remain completely safe until the mutating coronavirus is brought under control in all corners of the globe, and for this there is no other option but to ensure inclusive international cooperation, leaving no one behind.
He stressed upon the necessity for strong partnership and collaboration amongst foreign ministers to step up political support in critical situations such as at present and also in the future.
US Secretary of State Blinken urged that foreign ministers work together to address the challenges posed by the pandemic, and announced the launch of a Covid Data Tracker.
Stating that vaccines will be made available in conflict affected areas, he said concerted work would be undertaken to meet an estimated shortfall of 550 million vaccine doses needed to bring the entire global target population group under vaccination coverage.
Secretary Blinken presided over the session, with the IMF managing director, the US NIH director, and the WHO director general, setting the scene.
The meeting was attended by the foreign ministers of about 25 countries. Besides the Bangladesh foreign minister, the foreign ministers of the EU, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Norway, Romania, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Peru, India, Indonesia, Maldives, ROK, South Africa, Senegal, and Kenya, were invited to speak.
Senior representatives of the African Union, the Pacific Island Forum, the League of Arab States, and the Organisation of American States, also spoke at the meeting.