By Ismail Abdulaziz
Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland has called on G20 members to accord priority to the vaccination of the world’s 42 smallest states to shield them fro COVID-19.
She said this could be achieved through a partnership between the Commonwealth and other partners, particularly the World Health Organization and World Trade Organization.
A statement by Snober Abbasi, Assistant Communication Officer, said Scotland made this known at the annual Health20 Summit which was held virtually.
The annual Health20 Summit involves G20 Policymakers, International Organisations, the Global Health Community, Economists, Civil Society and Academia.
The stakeholders discuss and make concrete recommendations to G20 Health Ministers ahead of their summit about the future of global health crisis management and financing.
“As the pandemic unfolded, we were urged to act selflessly to protect the most vulnerable. As some of the more affluent countries of the world start to emerge from the crisis, we must work now to protect the smallest and most vulnerable nations from COVID-19.
“Only 1.4 per cent of the vaccines administered globally have gone to people in low-income countries.
“I urge the G20 to start work now on protecting the 42 small states of the world, 32 of which are members of the Commonwealth which I have the honour of representing.
“For just two days’ worth of global vaccines, we could fully vaccinate and protect these smallest and most vulnerable nations among us.”
The Secretary-General added: “The hard truth now is that we face not a race against ‘the’ COVID-19 virus but a race against its variants.
“To allow COVID-19 to run unfettered in those parts of the world, which so far have been unable to protect themselves through vaccination, is to allow the virus to adapt, mutate and create stronger faster deadlier variants that can only doom us all to more and longer suffering.
“There is no quarantine policy, public health programme or vaccination rate that can protect our populations nearly as well as eradicating the virus from all our countries through a concerted and coordinated drive for equitable vaccination.”
Under the theme Countdown To 2030 – Turning G20 Health Declarations Into SDG3 Actions and Results, the H20 summit in support of the G20 Presidency of Italy, will discuss what the global community has achieved in managing COVID-19.
It will also compare and analyse existing G20 initiatives to assess how to leverage the many initiatives and turn them into concrete actions.
The “call to action” recommendations following from the H20 summit will be shared with G20 Health Ministers ahead of their meeting on Sept. 5 and Sept. 6.
Commonwealth describe small countries as those with a population of 1.5 million people or less; with a bigger population but which share many of the same characteristics. For example, Botswana, Jamaica, Lesotho, Namibia, and Papua New Guinea.
Thirty-two of the 54 member countries of the Commonwealth are small states.(NAN)