Commonwealth health ministers have convened to address vaccine inequity and build sustainable and resilient health systems to speed post-pandemic recovery.
The 34th edition of the Commonwealth Health Minsters’ Meeting (CHMM) opened on 17 May chaired by Jamaica’s Minister of Health and Wellness, Hon Dr. Christopher Tufton.
The annual meeting provides a forum for ministers to assess the current health challenges across the Commonwealth and discuss effective strategies – even more so as the world recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The pandemic continues to be a profound crisis in our world,” said the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC, speaking at the meeting.
“But as well as being a distinctive threat, COVID-19 has exposed the inherent weaknesses and inequities in our health systems – as a Commonwealth, and as a global community.
“Even countries with the most advanced health systems have been forced to grapple with severe disruption to essential services and primary health care.
“For many low and middle-income countries, these disruptions were magnified, and progress toward pre-pandemic commitments on urgent priorities such as malaria and neglected tropical diseases have been inhibited.”
Secretary-General Scotland also highlighted issues of health inequalities, which were exacerbated during the pandemic.
She pointed specifically to the challenge of equally distributing vaccines as more than 40 per cent of people are yet to receive even a single dose in the Commonwealth.
The Secretary-General called for urgent efforts to vaccinate 70 per cent of the population of each country reprising the recent Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the Secretariat and the World Health Organization (WHO).
WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, joined the meeting through a keynote address and called on governments to scale up the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, prioritise robust and sustainable financing for health, and reaffirm commitments to the Commonwealth goals – particularly on the elimination of malaria, trachoma, and cervical cancer.
Learn More: The Commonwealth Secretariat
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