Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen has made a five-point recommendation, including the necessity of undertaking a time-bound action plan, supported by financing and capacity building, for addressing the unwarranted vaccine gap for many low- and middle-income countries.
He made the recommendations during a virtual Covid-19 Ministerial meeting held recently.
Dr Momen attended the meeting at the invitation of United States Secretary of State Antony J Bliken.
The meeting was also attended by the foreign ministers of around 25 countries, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday.
Dr Momen suggested convening a high-level panel by the WHO featuring select global leaders to devise a blueprint for preventing and managing future pandemic, ideally with gender and geographic balance.
In his third recommendation, the Foreign Minister called for the US and the WHO to take the lead in convening an expert working group on the question of strengthening national-level disease control agencies.
He also mentioned supporting the vaccine manufacturing capabilities in certain countries like Bangladesh in the Global South, in a meaningful manner through appropriate interventions concerning intellectual property rights and technology transfer.
In his fifth recommendation, Dr Momen called for factoring the linkage between climate change and biodiversity loss with pandemic outbreaks in the collective efforts to build back better, greener and stronger from the pandemic.
In his statement during the meeting, the Foreign Minister highlighted the fact that Bangladesh has managed to keep the fatality rate lower than the global average.
He also informed that the infection rate in Bangladesh remains under 1 percent at present.
Contrary to some dire projections, Dr Momen said, Bangladesh managed to keep the infection and death rates absolutely minimal in the congested Rohingya camps Cox’s Bazar.
Dr Momen reiterated Bangladesh’s demand that the Covid-19 vaccines should be declared as ‘global public good’ to make them affordable to all countries.
He also urged that pharmaceutical companies, including those in Bangladesh, should be encouraged and assisted to produce Covid-19; and stated that Bangladesh stands ready to contribute to global vaccines production for sharing with others.
Recalling that Bangladesh has so far administered 78 million vaccine doses, with 46 million single doses and 32 million double doses, Minister Momen stated that the target is to vaccinate 80% of Bangladesh’s target population group by March 2022, and continued supply of vaccines is required for that.
The Foreign Minister underscored the fact that no country would remain completely safe until the mutating coronavirus is brought under control in all corners of the globe, and for this there is no other option but to ensure inclusive international cooperation, leaving no one behind.
He stressed the necessity to have strong partnership and collaboration among the foreign ministers to step up political support in such critical situations at present and also in the future.
Earlier, US Secretary of State Blinken urged the foreign ministers to work together to address the challenges posed by the pandemic, and announced the launch of a Covid Data Tracker.
Stating that vaccines will be made available in conflict-affected areas, he said a concerted work would be undertaken to meet the estimated shortfall of 550 million doses of vaccines required to bring the entire target population group under vaccination coverage.
Secretary Blinken presided over the sessions, with IMF Managing Director, US NIH Director and WHO Director General setting the scene.
In addition to the Bangladesh Foreign Minister, the Foreign Ministers of the EU, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Norway, Romania, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Peru, India, Indonesia, the Maldives, ROK, South Africa, Senegal and Kenya were invited to speak.
The Senior Representatives of the African Union, Pacific Island Forum and League of Arab States, Organisation of American States also spoke at the event.