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Dhaka Tribune

ED: The right to health means the right to vaccination

This problem could to a great extent be solved by allowing these nations to make their own vaccines

Update : 29 May 2021, 04:36 AM

The right to health is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations, which provides all individuals a universal minimum standard of health.

This is a declaration that 48 countries, including the US, the UK, Canada, and Australia, in addition to prominent EU nations such as Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, voted in favour of in 1948. However, as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to take lives and bring down economies, the availability of vaccines has become of paramount importance to ensure that this right is upheld, especially in poorer nations which cannot afford to procure or have the technology to produce them in numbers necessary to protect their citizens.

This problem could to a great extent be solved by allowing these nations to make their own vaccines by providing them with the expertise necessary and, more importantly, waiving intellectual property rights on the vaccines, many of which are currently owned by private corporations, whose opposition to such a move speaks to their commitment to profit over health.

Developing nations, already devastated by the pandemic in an increasingly unequal global landscape, have continued to suffer, as their citizens have perished to lose-lose lockdown implementations, forcing them to choose between lives and livelihoods.

The decision in the US to support a temporary waiver is commendable, no doubt, but merely a waiver, that too a temporary one, will not be enough. We agree with Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen’s call not only for the transfer of technology and waiver of rights, but also to provide trade benefits to allow struggling nations to recover.

A commitment to a so-called “right to health” will mean little if LDCs are left to fend for themselves, leaving them vulnerable to further mutations and strains which have evolved to become more potent in their ability to cause death.

When it comes to health, policies determined by corporate interests will only go so far -- it will only be a matter of time before these vaccines become ineffective against a whole new breed of viruses, leaving even the wealthiest nations vulnerable to death and suffering.

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