In a bid to fight against the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, more than 140 leaders on May 14 signed an open letter requesting governments to unite behind a ‘people’s vaccine’. According to a UN press note, the world leaders are demanding that all vaccines, treatments and tests be patent-free, mass-produced and distributed fairly. While the South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa pushed for scientific research to be shared between countries and that the vaccine is patent-free, Pakistan PM Imran Khan underscored the need to work together to beat the deadly virus.
The #coronavirus crisis has shown us that the right to health is more important than ever, & that we are only healthy when we are ALL healthy.— UNAIDS (@UNAIDS) May 14, 2020
When a #COVID19 vaccine is found, it must be available to ALL people, in ALL countries, free of charge.
It must be the #PeoplesVaccine.
The signatories included former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Gordon Brown, former President of Mexico Ernesto Zedillo, and former Prime Minister of New Zealand Helen Clark. The world leaders also joined the UN agencies and international financial institutions in calling for water sanitation and hygiene to be prioritised in the battle against the virus. The leaders said that actions discussed are first lines of defence, and central to stemming the virus from spreading.
In a joint statement, the leaders said, "Our response plans – at national, regional and global levels – must, therefore, prioritize water, sanitation and hygiene services”.
They further added, “Under the premise that we are only as healthy as the most vulnerable members of society, no matter the country, the global leaders requested that all three be made available to everyone, eliminating inequalities and leaving no one behind”.
Furthermore, the leaders also advocated for working together to improve water and sanitation services and said that everyone has something to offer to protect populations from COVID-19. They also believe that it is essential to ensure that water and sanitation systems are resilient and sustainable to protect people’s health and support national health systems.
Moreover, the leaders also stressed the need to provide countries with financial support so they can adequately respond to the crisis. They believe that funding envelops need to be maintained with no diversion away from the commitments and priorities set for the water, sanitation and hygiene sector. The leaders also called for the delivery of accurate, transparent information, based on scientific advice which will enable everyone to act accordingly.
The leaders said, “Resilience to future crises depends on actions taken now, as well as on policies, institutions and capacity put in place during normal times. As leaders, this is our chance to save lives”.