COVID-19 vaccines should be universally accessible and not a means to draw profit: PM Oli

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has said that the vaccine against corona virus should be universally accessible to all nations and people like a public commodity.

Addressing the 31st special session of the UN General Assembly on Friday through a video message, Prime Minister Oli said the world would not be safe from epidemics unless global access to vaccines was ensured. Prime Minister Oli said that he was encouraged by the success achieved in vaccine development and appreciated the initiative taken by COVAX to ensure vaccines access for all — rich and poor.

“We firmly believe that life-saving vaccines cannot be a means of making huge profits when the entire human race is in crisis. Vaccines should be universally accessible to all nations and people,” he said in his address.

Prime Minister Oli added that the COVID-19 pandemic was seriously affecting all societies, economies and countries with unspeakable tragedy. “The present pandemic is not just a health emergency. It is a wake-up call against the widening inequality among and within the nations and humanity’s failure to live in harmony with nature,” said the PM.

Noting that no one was safe from the pandemic, Prime Minister Oli went on to say, “Yes, we are all in the throes of the same catastrophe. Some of us may think we are safe, but we are not. We are all in danger. The pandemic has given us an invaluable lesson. This world is a small ship and we are all its passengers. Whether we like it or not, we share the same destiny.”

He said that Nepal, like other countries, was not prepared for such a crisis and has made significant improvements in the field of public health due to the same. “Starting from ground zero, we have established 68 PCR testing laboratories across the country. More than 70 hospitals have been designated as special COVID-19 hospitals. We are moving forward with the goal of building hospitals with basic health care facilities at all 753 local levels,” he said.

Prime Minister Oli also praised the United Nations and the World Health Organization for their global coordination and leadership in times of crisis.

The Prime Minister added that there was a need for a strong multilateral role in tackling serious challenges such as climate crisis and global epidemics, including poverty, hunger and growing inequality.

“As we look to recover and rebuild better, our efforts must be aligned with the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement. We must invest in health and social protection systems; invest in infrastructure and create jobs.”