Tribune News Service
New Delhi, May 24
Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi addressed delegates on Monday at the opening of the 74th World Health Assembly virtually and called on countries to take urgent action for the millions of children living in extreme poverty, whose families are suffering devastating impacts of Covid-19.
The event was attended by global leaders including French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres among others.
This included support for COVAX and intellectual property waivers on vaccines, as well as targeted international and national action plans to protect children both directly and indirectly affected by the pandemic.
Thanking healthcare and frontline professionals, and the World Health Organization for their tireless work, Satyarthi called the 74th World Health Assembly a “defining time in our society,” and described the current situation as “a crisis of justice, a crisis of civilisation, and a crisis of humanity.”
Satyarthi’s comments come in the backdrop of his first-hand experience of the catastrophe that has befallen the poor and marginalised communities who have little or no access to healthcare or vaccinations.
He said: “The world has suffered as one, but we have not suffered equally”.
He cited the Fair Share for Children Report, which identified that just 0.13 pc—or USD 10 billion—of the global USD 8 trillion Covid-19 relief package went to multilateral efforts for the world’s poorest countries and highlighted that while the world has suffered as one, we have not suffered equally.
“Two-third of the world’s largest companies made an additional profit of USD 109 billion in 2020,” he said, adding, that at least 140 million more children have been pushed into extreme poverty as a result of the pandemic, and the number of children being exploited in child labour is expected to increase for the first time in decades.
Satyarthi spelt out four main demands in his address—multi-sectoral partnership for children; waiver of all intellectual property restrictions on Covid-19 vaccine; protection of children from imminent mutation of the virus and budgeted action plans and constitution of task forces to reach the poorest and most marginalized children through vaccination, pediatric facilities, and social protection floors.
Incidentally, Kailash Satyarthi is one of almost 200 former heads of state and Nobel Laureates who called on President Joe Biden of the US to waive WTO intellectual property rules, coordinated by the People’s Vaccine coalition.
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