President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on the international community to invest in healthcare, with the intention of safely emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic while managing to avert another potential health crisis.

Ramaphosa addressed fellow heads of state at the 74th World Health Assembly on Monday, 24 May 2021. The event takes place under the theme Ending this pandemic, preventing the next: building together a healthier, safer and fairer world.

“As we emerge from the worst of the pandemic, we need to build more robust pandemic response systems. We need to give attention to the establishment of a Global Health Council that collaborates with the WHO to support regional and national response mechanisms,” Ramaphosa said.

“We need to invest in our national health systems, understanding that these are vital to the health of our people and the sustainability of our economies”

The president further acknowledged that the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the existing weaknesses in each country’s health system, but said decisive measures were necessary to strengthen them.

“In our case, for example, we have had to respond to the fragmentation of our health system, integrating services between the public and private sectors and improving coordination between the different spheres of government,” Ramaphosa said.

“We improved our capacity to do genomic analysis, relied more on scientific evidence to manage the pandemic, improved diagnostics and increased oxygen supplies”

President Cyril Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa on COVID-19 vaccines

While South Africa’s vaccination rollout begins to gain momentum, President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on world leaders to come together to ensure that poorer nations are also able to administer jabs.

Ramaphosa said this was not only a moral imperative, but also a critical step towards achieving global vaccination and ending the pandemic.

“None of us can hope to be safe unless we are all safe,” he said.

The president further emphasised that vaccine production around the world needed to be urgently increased.

“Among other things, we need all countries to support the call for a limited waiver on intellectual property rights as a mechanism to promote rapid, equitable access. This will allow countries to allow the use of intellectual property, share technologies to produce vaccines and therapeutics, lower prices and expedite distribution to everyone, everywhere,” Ramaphosa said.

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Presh JM Reporter

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