‘Globalize Compassion’: Nobel Laureate urges world leaders to drop vaccine patents

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Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Kailash Satyarthi called on world leaders to think about the long-term impacts of the choices they make today, urging them to support a patent waiver proposal on Covid-19 vaccines and other related intellectual property restrictions.

Satyarthi made these requests in a keynote address at the opening of the annual World Health Assembly of the World Health Organization, which is attended by ministers of world health and delegations from WHO Member States. . The week-long virtual event kicked off Monday and will run through June 1.

Claiming he represents the “voice of the millions of voiceless children who are left behind” – those who suffer from hunger and poverty, who are forced into exploitation and who face “the worst health problems “And the obstacles to education and adequate sanitation – said Satyarthi comes at” a decisive moment in our society “which should encourage thinking about the” human costs “of the choices made.

He mocked the fact that only 0.13% of estimated at $ 8 trillion spent by governments around the world last year to fight the Covid-19 pandemic has gone to “the most marginalized communities”, who suffer “immeasurable misery”.

Beyond being a health and economic crisis, Satyarthi said the pandemic represented a “crisis of justice, a crisis of civilization and a crisis of humanity”.

Satyarthi is the founder of the Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation, which works to end child labor and exploitation. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 for his work to end child slavery. That year, the award was jointly won by children’s education activist Malala Yousafzai.

“While the world has suffered as one,” Satyarthi said, “we have not suffered equally”.

He cited as an example that “two-thirds of the world’s largest companies earned an additional $ 109 billion in 2020”. At the same time, he said, “140 million children and their families will be plunged into extreme poverty”.

“It is unacceptable. It is an injustice,” he said.

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“I have heard the children screaming in their sleep and the deafening silence of the day,” said Satyarthi, who lamented that there are now 152 million children forced into labor around the world. Sadly, he continued, the pandemic is expected to drive that number into the millions.

Having warned that the next wave of coronavirus infections is likely to target children, he said: “We can’t wait until the house is on fire again so we have the fire extinguishers ready.”

“If we don’t learn from our mistakes, we won’t lose our people to the virus but to our lack of preparation, apathy and complicity.”

The global COVAX vaccine initiative is a “step in the right direction,” said Satyarthi, but “only compassionate policy and moral leadership can make it meaningful.” And “it is the hour of the crisis that the true character of the leaders is manifested”.

“Now is the time to act,” Satyarthi said and presented a number of recommendations to policy makers.

United Nations agencies “must be united now” and high-level interagency groups should be created to recommend “concrete and time-bound actions to protect our children”.

“Second, I request a waiver of all intellectual property restrictions on the manufacture of Covid vaccines, the democratization of technical knowledge and access to raw materials[s]”Satyarthi said.

He also referred to a recent call from more than 170 former world leaders and Nobel laureates for this proposed intellectual property waiver to be adopted. Satyarthi further praised US President Joe Biden’s recent support for this effort in global trade organizations and said “other countries must do the same as well.”

“We are at a crossroads,” Satyarthi said, warning that future generations “will pay the price for our choices that we make today”.

“Profit, politics and property can wait,” he said, “but not our children”.

“Let’s globalize compassion for our children,” he added. “Let’s globalize compassion as we step out of the wreckage of this pandemic.



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