The world is now scrambling to recover from the health and economic crises triggered by the COVID-19 though many nations are still confronting the spread of deadly virus that has become the pandemic of century. It has caused big humanitarian crisis. More than 4.5 million people have already succumbed to the virus while an additional 150 million people were pushed into extreme poverty, threatening to reverse hard-earned development gains. However, the invention of anti-COVID vaccines within a year of its outbreak helped greatly to minimise its risk. The vaccination drive is in full swing across the world. Mass inoculation is the only way to avert COVID-19 spread and adapt to a new normal because it develops herd immunity and keeps the virus threats at bay. But the poor and underdeveloped countries have been deprived of access to the vaccine, hampering their efforts to fight the pandemic and gain early economic recovery. The global attempts to realise the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have also been affected.
Vaccine inequality is now a global issue raised by many nations, including Nepal. Therefore, it is imperative to make sure that all nations have easy access to the vaccines so as to enable them to return to normal activities. Nepal has emphatically called for ensuring affordable vaccines to the poor nations in the ongoing the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York. Addressing the Assembly on Monday, Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr. Narayan Khadka underscored the importance of ensuring fair and equitable access to vaccines for everyone, everywhere. Minister Khadka, who is leading the Nepali delegation, hailed the efforts made by the international community, including the United Nations, to address the challenges posed by COVID-19. He stressed that vaccines must be declared as public goods for the benefit of people’s lives. When the vaccine becomes public good, there is less chance to commercialise it and obstruct its fair supplies.
The theme of the UNGA this year is: “Building resilience through hope - to recover from COVID-19, rebuild sustainably, respond to the needs of the planet, respect the rights of people, and revitalise the United Nations". This is fitting slogan given the urgency to address the humongous challenges created by the pandemic. Nepal is pulling its weight in building a sustainable and resilient recovery from the pandemic. The international community has always been cooperative towards Nepal in its fight against coronavirus pandemic. India, China, the United States, Britain, Japan and other countries have provided vaccines, critical medical equipment and medicines to Nepal. Nepal government has attached top priority to the health of the people.
Minister Khadka has expressed Nepal’s commitment to democracy and multilateralism that remains viable approach to resolve the burning problems of our time – pandemic, climate change, poverty, economic disparity, terrorism, conflict and natural disaster. Nepal has put unwavering faith in the United Nations and its multilateral system in dealing with these challenges. As a committed member of the world body, Nepal has been contributing to the UN peacekeeping operations for the last 63 years in order to promote pace, security and stability in the conflict-hit places in the world. It is with the active participation in the UN platforms that the nations will be able to promote understanding, cooperation and shared interests of the people.