Hasina calls for elimination of rich-poor vaccine divide

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called for “bold and concrete” action at the global level to eliminate vaccine divide between the rich and the poor amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In a set of proposals she placed at a high-level meeting in New York on delivering the UN’s common agenda - action to achieve equality and inclusion, Hasina on Thursday described vaccine equality as the “most urgent call of the hour”.

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the poorest and the most vulnerable countries the hardest. “Our decades of development gains on reducing poverty, inequality and exclusion are rapidly sliding back,” she said in a recorded speech for the event.

“No single country can tackle this crisis alone. We need bold and concrete actions at global level. We need multilateral cooperation to fulfil our promises of UN75 Declaration to build a more equal and inclusive world.”

The prime minister arrived in New York on Sunday to join the 76th UN General Assembly. She will deliver a speech at the UNGA on Sept 24.

On Thursday, she called for a new paradigm that will address inequality in a holistic manner. “It has deep relations with the SDGs, such as poverty, hunger, gender equality, health, education and job creation.”

She said the world must address the special financing needs of the most vulnerable countries, including the least developed ones and those vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

It is also imperative to address the vulnerabilities of migrants and people on the move, Hasina said.

“We need to bridge the stark digital divides to ensure equal opportunities for all in this evolving digital age.”

“Finally, we must create more opportunities for women and girls to act as real change makers in our societies.”

Quoting the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman from his maiden speech at the UNGA in 1974, Hasina said, “There is an international responsibility…..to ensuring everyone the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family.”

In keeping with Bangabandhu’s ideals, Bangladesh has adopted a ‘whole society’ approach in realising the SDGs and ensuring a COVID recovery that will “leave no one behind”, she said.

“We have placed the most vulnerable section of our society at the centre of our efforts. And that include, women, the ultra-poor, ethnic minorities, people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups.”