NAM has reiterated its concern at the global threat posed by health epidemics. In this context, NAM has called on the Member States of the United Nations to enhance their cooperation at the national, regional and international levels to confront and combat these health epidemics and has – stressed the need to give appropriate consideration to the issue of halting and reversing the global threat posed by health epidemics.

On May 11, 2020, the World Health Organisation declared COVID-19 as an epidemic. The WHO stated then that “Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly. It is a word that, if misused, can cause unreasonable fear, or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over, leading to unnecessary suffering and death”.

The developing world has been hit the worst by this crisis. According to the United Nations Development Program, the growing COVID-19 crisis threatens to disproportionately hit developing countries, not only as a health crisis in the short term but as a devastating social and economic crisis over the months and years to come. Non-Aligned Movement, being the largest collective voice of the developing world, has voiced its concerns regarding the adverse impact of COVID-19 crisis.

NAM has called on its Member States to cooperate in strengthening their health systems and to provide protection to the vulnerable population. On May 4 2020, an online Summit level Meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Contact Group in response to COVID-19, under the theme of “United against COVID-19 pandemic” was held. Following the Summit, NAM adopted a Declaration underlining the importance of international solidarity in the fight against COVID-19.

A year has passed and still the problems caused by COVID-19 continues to hit the developing world hard. During this period, NAM has recognised the importance of international cooperation and effective multilateralism in ensuring that all States, in particular developing States, including the least developed States, have affordable, timely, equitable and universal access to COVID-19 vaccines in order to minimize negative effects in all affected States and to avoid the resurgence of the pandemic.

These principles were reiterated during the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Health Ministers’ meeting held on the side-lines of the 74th World Health Assembly of the World Health Organisation in May 2021. The Health Minister of Azerbaijan Mr Teymur Musayev first made a greeting speech while the Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of WHO spoke via his video message.

The NAM Health Ministers expressed concerns at the global threat posed by COVID-19 and resolved to fight it with proper preparedness, prevention, resilience-building, and greater national, regional and international collaboration. The NAM Health Ministers discussed cooperation works in conducting COVID-19 prevention and control activities, ways to solve health challenges, Universal Health Coverage, Sustainable Development Goals, fair use of COVID-19 Vaccine in member countries, priorities of WHO in sharing the methods of making vaccines in developed countries for the developing countries and collective strength to control the global pandemic.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan, the Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare, India, while participating in the meeting remarked that COVID-19 has made us realize that we are more interconnected and interdependent than ever before. It has made us realize that the man-made challenges that our planet faces today – such as Climate change and public health emergencies – can only be faced together, not when we are divided. It requires collaboration, not coercion. He talked of the importance of micro-identification, mass isolation and quick treatment as a policy response to COVID-19. He also said that focus on COVID should not mean neglect of patients of other diseases.

The Venezuelan Minister for Health, Carlos Alvarado advocated for multilateralism, solidarity, inclusion and cooperation without conditions to face the new waves of contagion of COVID-19, registered in the world; and at the same time to promote the release of patents for vaccines in favour of the health and life of human beings.

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