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SA: Dr Zweli Mkhize, Address by Health Minister, during a High-level Side Event on the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) (30/09/20)

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SA: Dr Zweli Mkhize, Address by Health Minister, during a High-level Side Event on the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) (30/09/20)

Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize

30th September 2020

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Excellencies,

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr Antonio Guterres,

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Director-General of the World Health Organisaton, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus,

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, the Rt. Hon. Mr Boris Johnson,

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The Prime Minister of Norway, H.E Ms Erna Solberg,

The Chancellor Merkel of Germany

The Prime Minister of Canada

The Prime Minister Sweden

Republic of Korea Minister of Health

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen;

I thank you for co-hosting this very timely event to “accelerate the end of the COVID-19 pandemic”, and for recognising the critical need for the developing countries to be afforded a voice in this global discussion.

I would like to further commend the cooperation between our Governments and all the countries around the world in fighting this global pandemic which has posed a challenge for all.

This side-event marks the progress that has been made through this collaboration to develop and ensure equitable access to new COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines through the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), in particular, its COVAX Global Vaccines Facility.

This is a key opportunity to reaffirm our global commitment to the vision pursued through the ACT Accelerator, and to scale up the financial resources required to ensure that the ACT-A is able to deliver the tools that the world needs to bring an end to this global pandemic.

South Africa, as a Co-sponsor of this side-event, alongside the United Kingdom, believe now more than ever in multilateral cooperation and for Governments and international partners to unite around a global guarantee that when a safe and effective vaccine is produced, it is done rapidly at scale and will be available to all people in all countries. This should also apply to all treatments, diagnostics and all technologies for COVID-19.

Looking beyond my own country to the African Continent, and the rest of the developing world, where the impacts of the virus are already truly devastating, the case for the ACT-Accelerator becomes even more compelling.   In the 10 months since the virus broke out we see:

the Sustainable Development Goals being put at risk and 100 million more people around the world facing the possibility of being driven into poverty

global health progress set back, e.g. suspension of immunization campaigns in 99 countries

24 million children in Low and Middle Income countries who may not have access to school next year

deferral of investments into renewable energy which we urgently need to fight climate change.

In Africa, the under-resourced health-systems at risk of being completely overwhelmed if the virus sweeps through.

We must therefore confront this health crisis as a global challenge, together in solidarity and cooperation with one another, working toward a global solution. We have to generate the key tests, treatments and vaccines that we all need, and make sure they are distributed equitably to people who most need them, regardless of where they live and whether their country is wealthy or not. 

We must ensure the achievement of Universal Health Coverage (UHC), and improve the lives of millions of people globally, especially in developing countries, as a large part of their populations are currently vulnerable and marginalized during this pandemic, and ensure that no one is left behind.

I would like to reiterate my country’s renewed commitment towards the Act-Accelerator and to ensure it is fit for purpose and fully resourced to deliver the tools the world needs to bring accelerate an end to this global pandemic, to save lives, protect health systems and to restart the global economy.

I thank you.

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