Munir Akram

UNITED NATIONS, Dec 27 (APP): The coronavirus pandemic has underscored the importance of upgrading health systems, especially in developing countries, to respond to infectious disease outbreaks, the head of UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Ambassador Munir Akram of Pakistan, has said.

“Our response towards all epidemics especially the one that engulfs us today should be of solidarity and international cooperation,” he said in a message marking the first-ever International Day of Epidemic Preparedness, being observed on Sunday.

The day was called for by the UN General Assembly to advocate the importance of the prevention of, preparedness for and partnership against epidemics.

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“The first and immediate task is to ensure that the vaccine against the Covid virus is distributed early and equitably to everyone,” Ambassador Akram said.

In this regard, he called for fully funding the $20 billion-short Covax facility, which is aimed at ensuring all countries will have equal access to any vaccines, once developed.

“Our performance in controlling emerging and re-emerging of epidemics depends on the quality and efficiency of our health systems, the ECOSOC president said, adding that it was also dependent on the strength and agility of early warning systems.

But, he said, developing countries lacked essential financial resources to invest in their health systems, and their response to pandemics would depend upon the availability of emergency concessional financing.

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Ambassador Akram called for ensuring that everyone everywhere – rich or poor – gets an equal and equitable access to the most advanced treatments, including vaccines.