President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has signed a global open letter calling for a vaccine for COVID-19 to be distributed free to all people, irrespective of their class, race or social status.
He has thus joined a list of over 140 world leaders, both past and present, and experts who have signed the letter, known as ‘the People’s Letter’, which was put out by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
The President took to his Twitter handle last Friday to announce his signing of the global letter.
It is important that all people everywhere must have access to the vaccine when one becomes available.
It must be the #People’sVaccine,” he posted.
President Akufo-Addo also thanked the Executive Director of UNAIDS, Ms Winnie Byanyima, for coordinating the initiative.
Among world leaders and experts who have signed the letter are the South African President and Chairman of the African Union, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa; the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr Imran Khan; President Macky Sall of Senegal; a former President of Liberia, Mrs Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, and a former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Mr Gordon Brown.
The rest are a former President of Mexico, Mr Ernesto Zedillo; a former Prime Minister of New Zealand, Ms Helen Clark; a former President of Ireland, Ms Mary Robinson, and a Nobel Laureate, Mr Joseph Stiglitz.
The letter called for a mandatory worldwide pooling of patents and sharing of all COVID-19 related knowledge, the establishment of a global manufacturing and distribution plan for all vaccines and tests and to guarantee that vaccines, treatment and tests were provided free of charge for everyone.
“We are calling on Health ministers at the World Health Assembly to rally behind a people’s vaccine against this disease urgently.
Governments and international partners must unite around a global guarantee which ensures that when a safe and effective vaccine is developed, it is produced rapidly at scale and made available to all people in all countries, free of charge,” it said.
It recognised that many countries and international organisations were making progress towards the goal for a vaccine for the viral disease.
Taking notice of the tireless efforts of the public and private sectors in research financing for a vaccine for the COVID-19, the letter said: “Our world will only be safer once everyone can benefit from the science and access a vaccine — and that is a political challenge.”
It added that it was time for Health ministers to renew the commitments made at the founding of the World Health Organisation (WHO), where all states agreed to deliver the highest attainable standard of health as a fundamental right of every human being.
The letter further stressed that access to vaccines and treatments as global public good was in the interest of humanity.
“We cannot afford for monopolies, crude competition and near-sighted nationalism to stand in the way. We must heed the warning that those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it.
We must learn the painful lessons from a history of unequal access in dealing with diseases such as HIV and Ebola,” it said.
It added: “We must also remember the ground-breaking victories of health movements, including AIDS activists and advocates, who fought for access to affordable medicines for all.”
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