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UN calls for “equitable and fair” access to medicines, vaccines in COVID-19 fight

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United Nations:  The United Nations General Assembly has adopted a resolution by consensus calling for global cooperation to ensure “equitable and fair” access to medicines, vaccines and medical equipment for all nations and to prevent any undue stockpiling of essential medical supplies as they battle the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Mexico-drafted resolution, which was adopted on Monday, recognised the importance of international cooperation and effective multilateralism in ensure that all States have in place effective national protective measures, access to and flow of vital medical supplies, medicines and vaccines, in order to minimise negative effects in all affected States and to avoid relapses of the pandemic.

The resolutions “encourages member states to work in partnership with all relevant stakeholders to increase research and development funding for vaccines and medicines.

It also encourages to leverage digital technologies, and strengthen scientific international cooperation necessary to combat COVID-19 and to bolster coordination, including with the private sector, towards rapid development, manufacturing and distribution of diagnostics, antiviral medicines, personal protective equipment and vaccines, adhering to the objectives of efficacy, safety, equity, accessibility, and affordability.”

This is the second resolution adopted by the 193-nation UNGA on the COVID19 pandemic.

Earlier this month, the General Assembly had unanimously adopted a resolution, co-sponsored by 188 nations including India, on COVID-19, calling for intensified international cooperation to defeat the pandemic that is causing “severe disruption to societies and economies.

The resolution also called upon member states and other relevant stakeholders to immediately take steps to prevent, within their respective legal frameworks, speculation and undue stockpiling that may hinder access to safe, effective and affordable essential medicines, vaccines, personal protective equipment and medical equipment as may be required to effectively address COVID-19.

It also urges Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, working with other multilateral organisations, to identify and recommend options, including approaches to rapidly scaling manufacturing and strengthening supply chains.

The resolution by the 193-member General Assembly reaffirms the fundamental role of the UN system in coordinating the global response to control and contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and in supporting member states.

It also acknowledged the crucial leading role played by the World Health Organisation in the fight against COVID-19, as the agency has come under consistent attack by the Trump administration over its handling of the outbreak.

The resolution requested the Secretary-General, in close collaboration with the World Health Organisation, to take the necessary steps to effectively coordinate and follow up on the efforts of the UN system to promote and ensure global access to medicines, vaccines and medical equipment needed to face COVID-19.

It said there was a need to consider establishing, within existing resources, an inter-agency task force, and to brief the General Assembly on such efforts, as appropriate.

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