UN Pushing for Equal Access to COVID-19 Vaccines, Says UNGA President

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Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

The President of United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, has said the global body is pushing for equal access to COVID-19 vaccines by all countries once the vaccines are available.

Muhammad-Bande disclosed yesterday while addressing a virtual press conference, adding that the developing countries have done better than developed countries as regards the management of the pandemic.

According to him, “COVID-19 has reminded us that we cannot have peace when our neighbours don’t have no peace; you cannot be healthy when your neighbours are not healthy. The pandemic has brought this to bear directly.”

Muhammad-Bande said: “Poor and rich countries are all affected. In some respect, Africa or Nigeria has done far better than countries that were expected to have done even better in dealing with the pandemic. Of course, the difference is that richer countries have been better able to provide palliatives for their citizens than poorer countries that were struggling even before the pandemic.”

The UNGA president noted that the poorer segment in all countries has been hit the most by the pandemic, adding that even in countries that are better structured in terms of financing, the poorer villages are the most hit.

Going forward, Muhammad-Bande stressed that there was need to pay more attention to the issue of disparity in technology, whether in education or in agriculture, in the developing countries.

He added: “UN has taken the lead to push for equal access to vaccines once they are available. The world body operates on the principle of leaving no one behind.”

On the Mali crisis, the UNGA president noted that the region has a very strong body-Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS)-, and that the leadership of the regional body has been given the mandate to handle the issue.

Muhammad-Bande stated: “The issue is that the UN council is fully involved, and the problem is also being permanently dealt with by the body that is closer to it, which is the ECOWAS leadership, and it is being supported. The UN has been heavily involved because it is a security issue. The UN works with the AU and ECOWAS leadership.”