World Health Assembly Special Session2 on Pandemic Preparedness and ResponseMonday, November 29, 2021
At this Special Session of the World Health Assembly the member states of WHO are embarking on an extremely important task. Although I am unable to join these critical deliberations in person, I wish to make the following remarks.
As a resource-deficient, import dependent Small Island Developing State, Maldives has experienced daunting challenges in all aspects related to the Covid-19 pandemic. At the same time, we can also say with a degree of certainty, that with resolve, with the whole of government and society together, unconventional but bold policy decisions, we have been able to manage these challenges. Maldives is among the first few countries that opened its boarders for tourists, and today, our infection rate remains low while vaccination coverage remains high.
Like most, if not all countries, when dealing with this still ravaging pandemic, some of the most remarkable common learnings for Maldives, would perhaps be the loss of life, human suffering aggravated by socioeconomic issues, the renewed realization and emphasis on primacy of life and public health, as well as the hard realization that no country can manage pandemics alone, and in the midst of all this the global public health architecture were found to be largely in need of reform , which Mr. Chair, brings us all to this Special Assembly.
The International Health Regulations of 2005, has proven to be an essential and a useful mechanism, for countries, for not only facilitating country capacities for preparedness and response, but also in prevention, especially controlling transmission across borders. However, as the pandemic has proven and as we all have experienced, political commitment and collaboration among nations are essential. Equity across and within all countries and emergency financial resources, among others though not within the realm of the IHR, still these are critical during a pandemic of this magnitude.
Additionally, and worryingly so, we must also acknowledge, that while the competence and technical prowess of WHO remained unquestionably robust at all times, the pandemic has given rise to new developments within the global public health sphere, and some of these developments, involving non-state actors and business entities that work for profit, have the potential to dent the long-standing primacy of the WHO as the most trusted and final arbiter when it comes to global public health policies and technical know-how.
Therefore, Mr. Chair, its indeed critical and timely that a new and more robust and effective international agreement, that not only strengthens current systems, but also brings in global commitment, accountability, and predictable readily available resources that ensures equity not only within but also across countries are negotiated. Maldives wishes to appreciate the report by the Member States Working Group, and look forward to working with other countries, based on the recommendations of the Working Group and our shared experiences during this pandemic.
Mr. Chair, I wish productive deliberations and a successful outcome at this Special Assembly.