World must learn from past mistakes, PM tells UN meet
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today urged the world leaders to draw on collective lessons to scale up good practices and avoid past mistakes to face any future pandemic like Covid-19.
"Equity and solidarity must form the core of our efforts," she told a high-level meeting on Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response (PPPR) held at UN Headquarters here.
For achieving that target, she flagged five priorities, which are:
First, concessional international financing for health system 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 from a pandemic treaty and amendments to the International Health Regulations (2005). Bangladesh will remain constructively engaged with both processes."
The prime minister said that the Covid-19 pandemic has been a turning point for all.
"We lost many around the world. We realized that nature has its own limits for human intervention. We also experienced unprecedented global solidarity. We admitted that none of us is secure until everyone is."
Sheikh Hasina mentioned that 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," she said.
She said that early on the government has adopted a National Preparedness and Response Plan with the support of WHO.
"We ensured the free provision of medicines and PPE for those in need. The number of ICU beds was more than doubled," she told the meeting.
She mentioned that from zero facilities, testing laboratories were set up in 885 centres. Oxygen supplies were secured in almost all hospitals. About 11,000 doctors and 13,000 medical support staff were recruited within months. With a fatality rate of 1.46 percent, the frontline workers did wonders.
She also said that a dedicated digital app was launched to administer vaccines entirely free of charge.
"We reached vaccine coverage of 93 percent with at least a second dose. I called for pandemic vaccines to be considered global public goods," she added.
The PM said that the 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," she said.