Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize says the need for equitable access to COVID-19 treatments and vaccines has become more compelling, especially in developing countries.

Mkhize was speaking during a virtual meeting of the UN Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator Facilitation Council (ACT-Accelerator).

The South African Health Minister says the impact of the pandemic has devastated global economies. He says it has also prompted the need for universal health coverage, among other things.

“In the 10 months since we’ve seen the virus breaking out, we’ve seen the following: firstly the sustainable development goals being put at risk, 100-million people around the world facing the possibility of being driven to poverty, global health progress set back. We must therefore confront this health crisis as a global challenge together in solidarity and cooperation with one another working towards a global common solution. We must ensure the achievement of universal health coverage and improve the lives of millions of people globally especially in developing countries.”

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ACT- Accelerator needs support from all countries

Meanwhile, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, says countries need to step up efforts to ensure a coordinated global response to the coronavirus pandemic and deliver the tools needed to accelerate its end.

Also speaking during the high-level meeting, Guterres said the ACT- Accelerator is the only mechanism that has the potential to beat the pandemic and it, therefore, needs the full support of all countries.

“Accelerator is the only global mechanism with a full spectrum of partners and tools to beat the pandemic. Accelerator provides the only safe and certain way to reopen the global economy as quickly as possible. Accelerator can leverage its massive market and bargaining to secure the lowest prices rapid vaccines and diagnostics and ensure equitable access for all who need it. I call on all countries and partners to significantly step up in the next three months to provide much needed new additional resources to mobilise all partners and to put everybody behind the global response to deliver.”
Global solidarity
The Head of the World Health Organisation, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, says science and all other solutions to end the coronavirus pandemic will be ineffective without global solidarity.
He says the ACT has already delivered some good results in the fight against COVID-19.

“The access to COVID-19 tool Accelerator is a necessary part of science and partnerships to develop solutions and deliver them in a spirit of solidarity. Already the Act Accelerator has delivered impressive results. Earlier this week, we reached an agreement to make 120 million new rapid tests available to low and middle-income countries and COVAX is supporting the delivery of nine vaccines with more in the pipeline. We already have 167 countries who will benefit from the COVAX vaccine facility representing over 70% of the world’s population.”