Geneva, 04 June 2021:
The pharmaceutical industries across the developing countries, including Bangladesh, capable of producing vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics and other medical equipment should get licenses as well as technology and technical know-how to produce the vaccines and health technologies for COVID-19 and those items should be provided to other developing countries free of cost. This was strongly demanded by Bangladesh in the just concluded 74th session of the World Health Assembly (WHA). In this respect, Bangladesh called for a temporary waiver from certain TRIPS obligations for the production of vaccines, medicines and other health technologies to effectively respond to the pandemic. Besides, Bangladesh delegation highlighted the timely and swift actions taken by the Government of Sheikh Hasina, including health measures and stimulus packages, to combat the socio-economic impacts posed by the pandemic.
The 74th WHA was held on 24 May – 1 June 2021 in Geneva virtually due to COVID-19. A Bangladesh delegation, led by Zahid Maleque, Minister for Health and Family Welfare and in direct collaboration with the Permanent Mission of Bangladesh in Geneva, attended the virtual WHA. This year, the Assembly mainly focused on the production, supply and equitable distribution of vaccines to address the COVID-19 crisis. At the Assembly, Bangladesh also highlighted the leading role of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as a Co-chair of the ‘One Health Global Leaders’ Group on Antimicrobial Resistance’ and emphasized the need to raise global awareness on tackling antimicrobial resistance. In addition, Bangladesh called for paying due attention to the need to promote mental health across the globe and ensure sustainable funding for a strong World Health Organization (WHO). Md. Mustafizur Rahman, Permanent Representative and Ambassador of Bangladesh to the United Nations Office in Geneva delivered two joint statements on mental health and antimicrobial resistance on behalf of WHO’s Southeast Asian region consisting of 11 countries, including Bangladesh. In addition to the 74th WHA, two important meetings of the WHO Executive Board (EB) and the Program, Budget and Administration Committee (PBAC) also took place. Bangladesh participated in the meetings as an elected member of both EB and PBAC. Health Minister Zahid Maleque was the Rapporteur for the EB session while Ambassador Rahman served as the Vice-Chair of Committee-B of the 74th WHA. A total of 35 resolutions and decisions on various issues related to health were adopted by the WHA.