Assalamu Alaikum and a very good afternoon.
I thank the current Non-Aligned Movement-NAM Chair Azerbaijan and the UN Secretary General for convening this Special Session in response to COVID-19 pandemic. The session bears paramount importance as the world is still going through a difficult time in facing the deadly virus and dealing with its impacts.
The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the health systems and economies across the world. Globally over 1.4 million people have already died and hundreds more are dying every day. The pandemic has made many people poorer while many others are sliding back to poverty. Malnutrition, discrimination and increasing inequalities are gripping the nations, and education system got disrupted. It caused sharp decline in trade, commerce and tourism impacting people’s livelihoods. However, the pandemic offers us an opportunity for a united response to safeguard people’s lives and their livelihoods, and learn from the crisis to build back better. Unfortunately, our fight against COVID-19 has not yet ended. Many countries are facing a second or third wave.
Bangladesh is also badly affected by the pandemic. It has heavily impacted our economy, our lives and livelihoods, our migrant communities and jeopardized our hard-earned development gains. However, we intervened early and effectively, and took bold actions to protect our economy and people from the fallouts of the pandemic. My government has announced stimulus packages worth USD 14.14 billion which is equivalent to 4.3% of our GDP to minimize the impacts on our business, employment, and productivity. We have expanded social safety-net coverage providing assistance to more than 25 million people since detection of the virus in early March. Extensive measures are put in place to contain the 2nd wave of the pandemic.
Yet, there is a need for urgent attention and further collaboration in some priority areas.
Firstly, we need to ensure universal, equitable, timely and affordable access to quality vaccines. The 2030 Development agenda recognized the fundamental role of Universal Health Coverage for achieving the SDGs guided by the principle of equity. In the same spirit, when it comes to the access to vaccines, no one should be left behind. This would help us defeat the pandemic, save lives and accelerate our economic recovery.
Secondly, the world must treat the Covid-19 vaccine as a ‘global public good’. The WHO initiative of ACT and COVAX facility can play a vital role in this regard. Developed countries should commit to technology transfer for the local manufacturing of vaccines in developing countries using IP rights waiver under TRIPS Agreement. Bangladesh has the capacity and is ready to produce vaccines if opportunity given.
Thirdly, the challenges faced by the developing countries in the context of COVID-19, including financial assistance, should be specifically recognized. The UN, IFIs, civil society alongside the national governments must do their share and actively cooperate with each other to combat COVID-19.
COVID-19 can never be brought under control in one place unless it is brought under control everywhere. Let us also take a renewed pledge to accomplish the 2030 Agenda for a sustainable world where our next generations stay resilient to future pandemics. I hope that this Session will serve to galvanize collective actions, global solidarity and multilateral cooperation to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. Bangladesh stands ready to work with all in this global effort.
I thank you all.