Reiterating the United States's aim to defeat COVID-19 and any future pandemics, State Secretary Antony Blinken on Wednesday (local time) said that America will work with partners around the globe to strengthen and reform the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Speaking at the UN Security Council (UNSC) briefing on the COVID-19 and Vaccine Access, Blinken emphasised that US President Joe Biden will work as a partner to address global challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
"President Biden's first National Security Memorandum made clear that the United States will once again serve as a global health leader. The United States believes that multilateralism, the United Nations and the WHO are essential - not just as an effective international COVID-19 health and humanitarian response, but also building stronger global health capacity and security for the future," he said.
Hours after being sworn in, President Joe Biden on Wednesday (local time) informed United Nations Director-General Antonio Guterres about the US' decision to re-join the WHO.
Blinken said that global leaders cannot afford to waste time after the recent outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Guinea.
He said, "We must defeat COVID-19 and prevent future pandemics. To that end, we will work with partners around the globe to strengthen and reform the WHO; to support the Global Health Security Agenda; to build sustainable preparedness for biological threats; to create a warning system that will allow us to respond more rapidly with testing, with tracing, with PPE needed to save lives."
Blinken stated that the US plans to provide significant financial support to COVAX through Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and also strengthen other multilateral initiatives involved in the global COVID-19 response - for example, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.
As the US is the "single largest contributor" to the international response to COVID-19, Blinken confirmed to the UNSC that by the end of February the US intends to pay over 200 million in assessed and current obligations to the WHO.
"We need to continue implementing Security Council Resolution 1325 and redouble our efforts to implement Council Resolution 2475. We must support the secretary-general's various COVID-19 policy briefs on gender, people with disabilities, and other vulnerable and marginalised groups. These groups must be included as decision-makers at all levels, following the principle of 'nothing about us without us'," he said.
While emphasising the need to expand access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, the US urged the countries to not allow "an use of the vaccine as an excuse to violate human rights or fundamental freedoms".
"To better understand this pandemic and prepare for the next one, all countries must make available all data from the earliest days of any outbreak. And going forward, all countries should participate in a transparent and robust process for preventing and responding to health emergencies, so the world learns as much as possible as soon as possible. Transparency, information sharing, access for international experts - these must be the hallmarks of our common approach to what is truly a global challenge," he added.
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