Statement by H.E. Sheikh Hasina, Hon’ble Prime Minister at the High Level-meeting on pandemic preparedness, prevention and response, 20 September 2023, UNHQs

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

Mr. President, 

Distinguished delegates,

Assalamu’alaikum and good morning/ afternoon.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a turning point for us all. We lost many around the world. We realized that nature has its own limits for human interventions. We also experienced unprecedented global solidarity. We admitted that none of us is secure until everyone is.

Mr. President,

Bangladesh was no exception to the COVID-19 impacts. Yet, we ranked fifth globally in COVID-19 recovery by one index. From the start, we had to strike a balance between saving lives and protecting livelihoods.

Early on, we adopted a National Preparedness and Response Plan with WHO’s support. We ensured free provision of medicines and PPE for those in need. Number of ICU beds was more than doubled. From zero facilities, testing laboratories were set up in 885 centres. Oxygen supply was secured in almost all hospitals. About 11,000 doctors and 13,000 support medical staff were recruited within months. With a fatality rate of 1.46%, our frontline workers did wonders.

A dedicated digital app was launched to administer vaccines entirely free-of-cost. We reached vaccine coverage of 93% with at least a second dose. I called for pandemic vaccines to be considered global public goods.

Our government rolled out a stimulus package worth 26.9 billion US dollars. We provided direct food assistance to more than 40 million low-income people. Bangladesh extended support to other friendly countries as well as to our migrant workers abroad.

Mr. President,

We must draw on our collective lessons to scale up good practices and avoid past mistakes. Equity and solidarity must form the core of our efforts. I flag five priorities here:

First, concessional international financing for health systems strengthening in developing countries;

Second, mobilizing resources and expertise for pandemic surveillance, prevention, preparedness and response in a science-based manner;

Third, ensuring equitable and unrestricted access for all to quality, affordable and effective pandemic products, including vaccines;

Fourth, production diversification of pandemic products through access to technology and know-how; and,

Fifth, developing an international cooperation framework for access and benefit sharing among concerned parties, with WHO in the lead.

To that end, we hope to see fair and concrete outcomes on a Pandemic Treaty and amendments to the International Health Regulations (2005). Bangladesh will remain constructively engaged with both processes.

I thank you.

Joi Bangla, Joi Bangabandhu.