Pandemic has proved “how powerless we are in the face of any global calamity”, says Hasina
The Covid-19 pandemic has shown that infectious diseases know no borders and do not differentiate between the weak and the powerful or between developed and developing countries, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said.
She made the remarks on Thursday while addressing the virtual Global Vaccine Summit 2020 hosted by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
“According to the UN, a new infectious disease emerges in humans every four months. The Global Virome Project has estimated that there are about 700,000 viruses capable of causing pandemics. Many of them may pose an existential threat to the whole human race. Therefore, current and newer vaccines will be needed for the survival of human beings and GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, can provide us with the best form of support in this battle,” said Sheikh Hasina.
Since its inception in 2000, GAVI has helped immunise over 760 million people against deadly diseases, saving more than 13 million lives worldwide, she said. She added: “They will continue to do so if we let them do it. So, it is not only me, but also the whole world which is waiting to hear from you in support of GAVI.”
Hasina opened her speech saying, “There could not have been a better time than today to meet to support the causes of vaccination when the world is frantically searching for an effective vaccine to fight Covid-19.”
The ongoing pandemic has proved “how powerless we are in the face of any global calamity,” she said.
Vaccination has proved to be one of the most important means to combat infectious diseases, the prime minister told the summit. “In this journey, GAVI has been a time-tested partner with us in achieving universal health coverage and SDGs. Bangladesh reached the target of MDG number 4 – reducing under-five mortality by two-thirds in 2010 due to important assistance rendered by GAVI.”
The Bangladesh government is relentlessly working to ensure that the benefit of development reaches the “last person in the line”, said Hasina, who is in office as prime minister for a third straight term.
Thanking GAVI for its $11 million fund for cholera, measles and rubella vaccines for the Rohingya refugees, Hasina said, ““Bangladesh is hosting 1.1 million ‘Forcibly Displaced Myanmar Nationals’ at a great financial, social and environmental cost. Our health officials and workers from international organizations are working to limit the number of COVID-19 cases in the Rohingya camps. So far only 5 cases were detected till last month in the most densely populated camps in the world.”
The vaccine summit is an important milestone, focusing as it does on securing support for the immunisation of 300 million children and saving up to eight million lives by 2025, strengthening health systems around the world and helping to tackle Covid-19 in some of the world's poorest countries.
If the summit succeeds, the organisers said they would be able to maintain immunization in developing countries, thus mitigating the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.