Health ministers from the Group of Twenty (G20) are aiming to vaccinate at least 40% of the world population against Covid-19 by the end of the year.
The target was announced at the G20 Health Ministers’ Meeting, held from Sunday (Sept. 5) to Monday in Rome.
In a press release on Monday, Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH) said the meeting had also adopted a Health Ministers’ Declaration emphasising the importance of strong multilateral collaboration in managing the Covid-19 pandemic and supporting global recovery.
The health ministers also agreed that vaccination is key, with the World Health Organization (WHO) taking a central and leading role.
The declaration recognised the wide-ranging impact of Covid-19, including on mental health and on progress in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which address global challenges including poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice.
The declaration also underscored the need to continue joint efforts to better prevent, detect and respond to future global health risks and emergencies, said MOH.
Singapore attended the meeting as a guest country at the invitation of Italy, the current G20 presidency.
“There is a (palpable) sense of resilience amongst all the health ministers,” said Mr. Ong in a Facebook post on Monday.
“This is one of those rare international meetings where a united purpose is forged by a common challenge.”
Mr. Ong spoke about Singapore’s Covid-19 experience as a city-state, emphasizing the importance of strengthening health emergency preparedness in an urban setting.
He also called on countries to keep global supply chains open, and to avoid a situation where different parts of the world recognise different vaccines, which will divide the global people’s network.
Mr. Ong said that a strong international system is thus needed to build up the healthcare response for the next pandemic, and urgently get going the reforms recommended by the G20 High Level Independent Panel to strengthen multilateralism in healthcare.
This would in turn strengthen the support for WHO to play its key role at the centre of global health security.
Mr. Ong also said that equitable access to disease control tools – vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics (VTDs) – has to be ensured through working global supply chains, with key nodes of global distribution needing to stay open.
He said that he hoped all countries would refrain “to the maximum extent” the imposition of export controls of essential medical items and vaccines.
Mr. Ong also mentioned the need to guard against the disruption of people to people connections around the world, as it would “undo decades of progress to build collaboration and mutual dependence between countries and regions for a safer and more prosperous world”.
“So as global travel resumes, having a passport is no longer sufficient to travel and enter a country, one may also require to have the right vaccine,” he said.
“We hope that G20 can take the lead to ensure that the world will not disintegrate into regions which cannot recognise each other’s vaccines.” (Source: CNA)