Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
President of the 74th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Ambassador Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, has called for equal opportunity on access to COVID-19 vaccines by all countries as soon as the vaccines are made available.
Muhammad-Bande spoke against the backdrop of the handling of the pandemic, particularly amongst countries in the sub-Saharan African region.
Speaking at a virtual press conference,
Muhammad-Bande said developing countries have done better than developed countries as far as the management of the pandemic was concerned.
He noted that the pandemic had spread rapidly and extensively to most countries in the world, which led to high mortality rate in Europe and the United States, including countless upper-middle-income countries in South America and Asia.
According to Muhammad-Bande, “UN has taken the lead, pushing for equal access to vaccines once they are available. The United Nations operates on the principle of leaving no one behind.”
Muhammad-Bande added that COVID-19 was a reminder to the world that there cannot be peace when your neighbours are having no peace and you cannot be healthy when your neighbours are not healthy.
Muhammad-Bande said: “Poor and rich countries are all affected. In some respect, Africa or Nigeria has done far better than countries that were expected to have done even better in dealing with the pandemic.
“Of course, the difference is that richer countries have been better able to provide palliatives for their citizens than poorer countries that were struggling even before the pandemic.”
Muhammad-Bande further said the poor have been hit the most by the pandemic in most countries, even as he said even countries that were better structured in terms of financing, their poorer villages were the most hit.
He however said that going forward, the world needed to pay more attention to the issue of disparity in technology, whether in education or in agriculture in the developing countries.
The outgoing UNGA President also took on the political crisis in Mali, saying that the West African sub-region had a very strong body, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) that the leadership had been given to handle the development.
“The issue is that the UN Council is fully involved and the problem is also being permanently dealt with by the body that is closest to it, which is the ECOWAS leadership, which is being supported. The UN has been heavily involved because it is a security issue. The UN works with the AU and ECOWAS leadership,” Muhammad-Bande stated.